Saturday, October 27, 2012

2011-2012 School Calendar Total Days and Federal Holiday Issues

During Public Comment at the April 19, 2011 school board meeting, I pointed out to the school board that the 2011-2012 school calendar which had been reviewed and approved by the school board in 2010 had the incorrect total number of days on the calendar.  The total number of days listed at the bottom of the 2011-2012 calendar showed 174 days for the school year.  However, counting each of the days on the calendar only totaled to 170 days.  The total number of days for each of the quarters was also shown incorrectly thus resulting in the 174 days being shown.  At the April board meeting, I verified with the school board that they had approved the calendar as listed on the website and asked that they please update the total number of days on the calendar to correctly reflect the days marked on the calendar.  During my 3 minutes, I also presented a few other concerns to be looked into by the school board as well as asking for a response from my December 2010 Public Comments questions.  This was also the school board meeting that was interrupted by the storm.

On May 17, 2011, I emailed Ruth Ann Newman the board president at the time and John Laughlin asking for follow up answers from my December 2010 Public Comments as well as informing them that the school calendar had not been updated since the last board meeting.  I also pointed out that the 2011-2012 school calendar showed that school was set to resume on Monday January 2, 2012 which was a federal holiday and that most companies are closed that day.  I received a scathing email response from our superintendent Dianne Brown at 10:47AM that same morning thanking me for voicing my concerns pertaining to the Fox C-6 School District followed by the statement, “After reading your concerns, many are false and inaccurate.”  I guess this is her way of informing the school board that I do not know what I am talking about and they might as well stop reading from there.  Well, Ms. Brown addressed 7 of my concerns in her email response.  Item number 7 addressed the school calendar issue and she stated in her response that it had been updated and corrected.  You might ask, how was it corrected?  The totals at the bottom of the calendar were removed as well as the quarterly day counts and total day count for the year.  The 174 days was probably a holdover from the old calendar when Missouri required school districts to have a minimum of 174 school days in a year for 5 day per week school districts.  Missouri changed the rules on school calendars a few years ago and now allows fewer school days as long as the school district meets the 1,044 hours of school time per calendar year.

So, the 2011-2012 school calendar was updated on May 17, 2011 but nothing was ever done to change the fact that our school district was resuming school on a federal holiday on January 2, 2012.  So, I brought this question up again in August with Ruth Ann Newman simply asking her about the calendar thinking that possibly no one realized that Monday January 2, 2012 was a federal holiday and didn’t notice that I had pointed it out in my email since this was never changed.  I also thought that someone else in the district might have noticed the calendar issue and voiced their concerns as I didn’t want to be the only person to complain. <g>

The last time that January 2 occurred on a Monday was in 2006 and Fox did not resume school until Tuesday January 3rd.  The rules for federal holidays are that if the holiday falls on a Sunday, then the holiday is observed on the Monday following the holiday.

I thought that possibly the district might notice that the we were going to school on a federal holiday and possibly make a change at the December 2011 school board meeting.  My friend Scott Steele spoke with Dan Smith about the calendar before the board meeting and Dan didn’t realize that we were going back to school on a federal holiday and told Scott that he would bring it up at the board meeting.  I attended the December 2011 board meeting and there was nothing on the agenda for the calendar and following the meeting nothing was changed regarding the calendar.  So, on December 20, 2011 I emailed my concern to Ruth Ann Newman, John Laughlin, Dianne Brown and the email address regarding the calendar and asking them “Why is the Fox C-6 school district scheduled to resume school following the Winter Break on the State and Federal holiday of Monday January 2, 2012?”  I pointed out in my email that the last time that January 2nd occurred on a Monday, school did not resume until Tuesday January 3rd.  I also pointed out in my email that only 2 school districts out of 57 in the St. Louis area were planning on resuming school on January 2, 2012.  I was also asking this question because many parents that I had spoken to had not even looked at the school calendar and were just assuming that we were off of school on Monday January 2, 2012 since they themselves were off of work that day and I was beginning to wonder how many kids were going to miss school that day because they didn’t know school was resuming on a Federal Holiday.

I received the following reply from Mr. Tim Crutchley concerning my email that same day:

Mr. Simpson,

Thank you for inquiring about our calendar. The 2011-2012 school calendar has been public for 2 years now and the day we are returning to school from this break has not changed during that time. While the district does recognize some state and/or federal holidays, we do not recognize them all. We also do not build our calendar around other school district calendars because what works for some districts does not work for us and conversely what works for our school district may not work for others. You reference the 2005-2006 calendar and obviously we have taken a different approach to the current year with our last day being today, the 21st of December not the 22nd of December which was the last day for that calendar. I hope this helps, please feel free to email or call me if you have any further questions regarding our calendars.

Tim Crutchley
Assistant Superintendent

Elsberry R-II was the other school district that resumed school on January 2, 2012.  I thought that maybe it was quite difficult to change your school calendar once it was set in stone with MO DESE.  However, I spoke with MO DESE to see if it was possible to change the school calendar during the school year and I was told that calendars are changed all the time.  I also had them do a quick search of all of the school districts in the state to see how many school districts were attending school on January 2, 2012 and there were roughly 50 or so schools that did attend that day.  So, I guess Fox wasn’t that different after all.

The next time that January 2nd falls on a Monday is during the 2016-2017 school year.