New first day of school decided

GLENDALE— Parents and students should make a note on their their calendars: school will start Aug. 30.

The 2010-11 academic calendars were unanimously approved Tuesday after months of wrangling with the teachers union over health benefits contributions and pay.

"This is a long time coming," said Glendale Unified school board President Greg Krikorian. "Sometimes it got tied into negotiations, but the calendar is finally set. I apologize that it took this long."

Parents were relieved that it's done, said Lynn Miyamoto, president of the Glendale Council Parent Teacher Assn.

"For some people, it probably sets their mind at ease," she said.

In December and January, parents criticized both sides as their disagreements led to delays and frustration.

"It's gone back … a long time," Miyamoto said. "We've always said we've wanted the earliest possible notice for when a calendar would be approved because people plan their trips a year out."

Academic calendars are negotiable and district officials said they hoped that 2010-11 could be the first year where school begins in mid-August.

But that proposal was part of larger negotiations with the Glendale Teachers Assn., and neither side could find a middle ground.

John Garcia, assistant superintendent for human resources, and teachers union President Tami Carlson tentatively agreed to the calendar June 14, after a proposed contract and calendar were rejected by the union membership last month.

"It just had to get done," Carlson said. "When the tentative agreement didn't get ratified, we went ahead and signed off on the calendars, both sides did, because we have to have calendars next year."

Both sides ultimately felt the calendar was not part of the larger dispute surrounding employee concessions, and could be settled separately. Negotiations are expected to resume July 16, Carlson said.

But the official academic calendars do not incorporate the increasing likelihood of furlough days, which are likely to affect all Glendale Unified employees next year.

"If an agreement is struck that includes furlough days, it would potentially mean on instructional days — the calendar would have to be adjusted," Garcia said.

Schools would be likely shut down on instructional days, and the academic calendar would be shortened from 180 days, much like the Station fire consumed instructional days in early 2009.

While school will begin Aug. 30, there's still support for opening school in mid-August the following school year. With an earlier start, winter break would fall between semesters, rather than in the closing weeks of the first semester.

It's a proposal many parents support, Miyamoto said.

"Many of us feel like it'd be great if they moved up the calendar because there are a lot of benefits that come with that," she said. "We figured it wasn't going to be any earlier because that's got to be negotiated."

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