The first item on the agenda was the school year calendar. There has been some debate among parents and teachers recently over whether fall break should be changed from two weeks to one, and what changing it might do to the rest of the breaks.
Lisa Martinez, a representative of K12 Insight, presented the results of a survey distributed to parents and teachers to the board.
According to Martinez, 44 percent of the more than 8,000 people who received an invitation to participate filled out a survey.
“The average is anywhere from 11 percent to 30,” said Martinez. “So, you guys kind of blew that out of the water.”
Three options were presented on the survey. The most popular one, option 2, offered a two-week fall break with a five day Thanksgiving break. The second most popular option, option one, offered a one-week fall break and a one week Thanksgiving break.
The least popular option offered no fall break and extended summer and winter breaks. This option received far less votes than the other two.
Board member Tom Sottek, from zone 3, admitted that seeing the results of the survey changed his mind.
“Last year, I voted for the one-week based on all the information,” said Sottek. “What I think might be important, based on the evidence today is, on Monday, I will probably make a recommendation to have the board strongly consider amending the calendar.”
Wayne McNeese, board member from zone 1, then asked Dr. Donna Wright, director of schools, to put the calendar committee back together in light of the information gained from the survey.
The contract for substitute teachers was also discussed. Board member Bill Robinson wanted to know why the budget for substitutes had gone up about $200,000 for the year.
After a lengthy debate, Wright explained the reason more money was spent was because more positions were filled than in the past.
“When we did it in-house, nobody knew about the grinding going on behind the scenes,” said Wright, “with someone coming in at 4:30 in the morning and making those calls to make sure she was getting the coverage. If anything, we’re at fault, because we have not communicated well the difficulty behind the scenes, and now, when we’ve outsourced, the staff has told me it’s been easier.”