Teachers Upset Over Richland Two Calendar
Teachers express disappointment in adopted 2012-13 calendar
Teachers from Richland Two expressed their disappointment in the recently approved 2012-13 academic calendar Tuesday night, questioning the Board of Trustees' decision to snub the plan that was more popular among faculty.
Round Top Elementary School teacher Teri Stone read a letter on behalf of Richland Two teachers during Tuesday night's board meeting. The letter explained why teachers wanted to keep the mid-Winter break on the calendar for next year.
"As educators who teach the students that you represent, we felt that our overwhelming vote of 75 percent for calendar A was the voice you needed to hear," Stone said. "Many teachers are also parents and we have received feedback from our colleagues and other stakeholders who support a mid-Winter break as part of the calendar."
In a split vote last month, board members approved the 2012-13 calendar without a mid-Winter break, despite recommendations from the calendar design team that suggested the break was popular among students and faculty.
"Teacher morale across our fine district was dramatically reduced when the board’s majority vote did not accept the faculty advisory council’s calendar recommendation," Stone said. "We are disappointed in this decision and respectfully ask that you reconsider your vote."
Among other advantages, Stone said the mid-Winter break provided a breather for students who act out in class, allowed for unencumbered family time and provided opportunities for professional development without the need for substitute teachers.
Stone's letter prompted board members to discuss the possibility of re-examining the 2012-13 calendar, but a formal reconsideration of the calendar was not added to the agenda for the next board meeting.
The board voted on the 2012-13 calendar without feedback from this year's break because members felt a full assessment of the benefits and detriments of the break would not be available until June.
The district posted a survey on its website asking parents and community members for their feedback on the break. Data from that survey, which closes on Saturday, will be presented during the March 26 board meeting.
Board member James Manning vocally opposed the mid-Winter break during February's vote, but Tuesday, Manning said he simply wanted to make sure it provided the best opportunities for each student.
"We should find some ways to take that mid-Winter break and turn it into another learning opportunity for our students that need it the most," Manning said.
Manning also expressed concerns about the impact of the break on low-income families and board member Susan Brill shared those questions.
"I talked to one teacher who said ‘You know it was great for me, that week off, but I know it was really difficult for my kids in poverty,'" Brill said. "That was my motivation. What were those kids going to do at home with parents that are not there anyway?
"I was trying to look at the district as a whole and do what I thought was best for the kids that were most needy."
Board members Barbara Specter and Stephanie Burgess were the only two that voted against the adopted calendar and Specter said Tuesday that she hoped the issue could be brought up again.
"I know that we didn’t have the data that we were looking for," Specter said, "but I think hearing what the parents and the students and the teachers have to say is just as important as getting test scores."
What do you think about the mid-Winter break? Should it be included in the 2012-13 Richland Two calendar? Let us know in the comments.