Sunday, February 24, 2013

Superintendent Flummoxed Over Proposed 200 Day School Calendar and Comparison

At the February 19, 2013 Fox C-6 Board of Education (BOE) meeting, I mentioned as part of my Public Comment the FACT that Fox's school calendar does NOT have more hours than most districts in the areas as she touted at the January 2013 BOE meeting. I researched other local school district school calendars and posted my analysis in a previous post. In fact, Fox is actually very near the bottom of the list in both the number of hours and very much so in the number of days that our students attend school each year. Fox only has 170 days in its school calendar whereas Lindbergh has 177 days and Rockwood has 180 days. Rockwood is in session 2 more weeks per year than Fox. That is a significant difference! When you compare things on a global scale, countries such as China have a 230 day school calendar.

I didn't realize how perplexing the math is behind the school calendar. So I transcribed Dianne's comments from my audio recording of the BOE meeting regarding Fox's school calendar and the affect that the Governor's proposed 200 day school calendar might have on our school district to make it easier to understand. I believe she was a bit bothered by me pointing out the fact that our district DOES NOT have more hours in our school calendar than most districts during my Public Comments. I guess that is why she threw in her comments that there is nothing that is not correct about that information and about not trying to hide things.

The math is a bit difficult to follow due to the switching of units between 174 days and 170 hours. The other thing that gets confusing is her comments regarding the number of hours that our kids attend in the high school each day. She explains how our high schools have 7 hours in a day where most other schools only have 6 hours in a day. The truth of the matter is that our high schools have a 7 Period day. Lindbergh's superintendent could claim that they have an 8 hour day because on Wednesdays they have an 8 "hour" or period day.

The fact is our high school students don’t attend more hours in the day than most other high schools.  Mr. McCutchen explained earlier to the audience after my Public Comments that our students attend school for 6.5 hours each day because lunch does not count towards the number of hours of instruction. I addressed the calendar issue in my Fact Checking post about the January BOE meeting. You don’t get the same impact from just reading the text as you do when you hear the audio. So, I will work on getting that posted in the near future. She states that our kids really have an advantage because of the extra hours they attend. Her math skills are what sets her apart from other superintendents and why she is compensated so well for what she does.

Right now, um, the legislative session has begun. And, it is proposed right now that schools go to a 200 day calendar year. Now we don't know where this is going to go. Um, it could be like many bills that are thrown out there. That they go nowhere. Um, as Mr. McCutchen indicated earlier, we are a school district that only goes 174 days but we go more hours than many. Most of our high schools are in 7 hours. Our high schools are 7 hours. Most high schools operate a 6 hour schedule. And we've always gone more hours even when we were going 174. So, when that law changed, we were able to go 170 hours and still be over the mandated hours. And I believe that's probably one of the reasons we do so well. Our kids really have an advantage if they're in school an hour a day. There is nothing that is not correct about that information. We're not hiding anything. They're in school 170 hours. But, they're in school many more hours during the day. Um, this however, could pose a big problem for school districts. Number one, it would take away summer school. And then number two, if they initiated this right away, that's 16 more days or more than that on a teacher's salary schedule and on classified salary schedules. So, you know with them not fully funding the budget, the formula. I'm not sure how school districts could survive that unless they came up with a lot of money to have school. Because you'd have to pay the teachers more. I can't see them work 200 days and not pay them anymore.

So, it's out there right now. But, like many things when the sessions are started. It's out there. And we don't know now if they're going to say 200 days or if they did like they did with the calendar a few years ago the numbers of hours that you go. But, you also don't want kids in school from 6 in the morning until 8 at night. So, at some point they just stopped funding and stopped doing it. So, that's just something to keep an eye on when we study those legislative bills.