Trustee explains why school was held Monday

With some parents still upset over school starting on a federal holiday, a school board trustee spoke with families Wednesday about what happened.

At Corona del Mar High School and Middle School's PTA meeting, Trustee Karen Yelsey explained why students were in school Monday, a federal holiday.

"It represents a bigger issue, because honestly it could have been changed," she said on the phone Wednesday. "The teacher's union could have agreed to the change."

The district, which plans its academic calendar three years in advance, discovered in 2010 that school was set to resume on a federal holiday, district spokeswoman Laura Boss wrote in an email to the Daily Pilot.

The district's calendar committee went back to the table and made a recommendation to the district to take Monday off and add a school day elsewhere. The classified employees union agreed to the change, but an agreement couldn't be reached with the Newport-Mesa Federation of Teachers.

"We ran out of time to implement changes," said Federation of Teachers Executive Director Nicholas Dix. "Ultimately we couldn't reach an agreement — neither of us could reach an agreement. We offered solutions as well."

Across the district, about 78% of students attended class Monday. The lowest attendance was at Mariners and Lincoln elementary schools with less than 69% of students showing up, according to final numbers provided by the district Wednesday.

Overall, about 76% of elementary and middle school students and 82% of high school students went to school.

Yelsey said she was on the phone all day Tuesday with upset parents who wanted to know why the district is wasting taxpayer money and other concerns including teachers not showing up.

"I think everybody by now — by this point — they understand why it happened and moved on," Yelsey said.

Twitter: @britneyjbarnes

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