Fillmore School District OKs 'Custom Calendar'

Times Staff Writer

The Fillmore school board this week voted unanimously for a controversial "custom calendar" plan that could shorten summer vacations by half and give kindergarten through 12th-grade students longer winter and spring breaks.

When the change was approved by a board committee last month, more than 550 students marched through Fillmore's downtown area to the school district office in protest. The district responded by suspending the students from school for 1 1/2 days.

However, at Wednesday's meeting, only one couple objected to the plan, and there were no student complaints, according to board Chairman Henry Carrillo.

A two-year trial period for the six schools in the district will begin at the start of the 1990-91 school year. However, it has not been decided when school will begin and where breaks will be scheduled.

The district's 400-student Piru Elementary School began operating on the custom calender three years ago and found it successful, district officials said. Piru's school year ends in June and opens the first week of August.

'Educationally Better'

"Teachers at Piru felt it would be educationally better for the students to have a shorter summer. After a long summer break, they must go through a heavy review period. The teachers, staff, students and parents are very happy with the custom calender," said Bob Kernan, Fillmore Unified School District assistant superintendent.

Lynn Edmunds, chairman of the committee that made the custom calendar recommendation to the school board, said the board discussed a recommendation about giving the students a week off in August, three or four weeks after school might start, because of the Ventura County Fair. "So many of the students out here are involved in it. Now, because we have a custom calendar, we can do things like that," she said.

Both teachers and high school students expressed fears during hearings that the change might jeopardize their chances at summer jobs. Single parents have said the new schedule could foul up court-ordered custody arrangements.

However, Edmunds, who is principal of Piru Elementary School, said the school board's controversial vote was a "focus on student needs."

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