District Changes New Calendar For 2018-2019 School Year

  By Charlotte Glass, Staff Writer

// Amid the recent transition to block scheduling, the Acalanes Union High School District (AUHSD) has undergone yet another change to the schedule. A slightly revised calendar for the 2018-2019 school year will allow AUHSD schools to start on Aug. 20 of the next school year, a week earlier than if they continued following protocol of the traditional calendar. This allows for an even earlier start, if agreed upon, for the 2019-2020 school year without it being such a drastic alteration. 

   “For the 2018-2019 school year calendar, we’re keeping it more neutral, keeping it where it’s been for the last three or four years in terms of start times. It’s a good direction to hold where we are, figure out what we want to do, and then go from there,” AUHSD Superintendent John Nickerson said.

   AUHSD intends to keep their options open regarding future calendar alternatives. A committee of teachers, parents, and students from high schools in AUHSD will have their first meeting on Oct. 23. By examining the current calendar, they will decide whether modifications to the 2019-2020 calendar serve the district’s best interests.

   The greatest potential impact to students of a revised calendar would be having final exam testing before winter break instead of after. While the majority of students favor testing before the break, some view the time off as a valuable opportunity to study.

   “I like the first semester finals to be after winter break because the break allows me to be rested before final review lectures and gives me a little bit of time to study,” junior Henry Huchingson said.

   Nonetheless, others feel as though the current timing of first semester finals is detrimental to not only their vacations, but also to their performance on the exams.

   “I definitely forget class material over the break. It’s two weeks of doing nothing. I don’t feel like it’s helpful at all,” sophomore Aly Sheehan said. “I think winter break is a time for family and celebrating holidays, not for doing school work. It’s supposed to be a break.”

   Many students, teachers, and parents are in agreement that finals should be taken before winter break. However, primarily parents of the Lafayette community have been reluctant to make the modifications necessary for this change.

   “There’s been some, if not many, people at the district that have wanted this change, but the community hasn’t wanted it for a number of reasons. But now that they’re seeing that other districts have done this and it’s been very positive, they’re jumping on the bandwagon,” Math teacher and Athletic Director Randy Takahashi said.

   A number of AUHSD partner districts including San Ramon, Dublin, Pleasanton, Piedmont, Brentwood, and Diablo Valley have all pulled their starting dates earlier, and as a result will have winter break following first semester finals. Likewise, an increasing number of California high school districts are transitioning to an earlier calendar.

   To accommodate for this, the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) has decided to move fall and spring sports up one week, with winter sports two weeks earlier. For some, this raises the concern that AUHSD is possibly falling behind other schools in California.

   “It’s kind of surprising because usually our district has been the leader in proactive decisions in academics, so it’s interesting that San Ramon Unified and Mount Diablo Unified did this before we did,” Takahashi said.

   Ultimately, it all comes down to whether the AUHSD community is willing and ready to try something new, or if they’re comfortable and resolved to stay with the calendar they have always had.

   “Tradition is hard to break away from. I think other districts made the change because they believe that it’s better for high school students, so we need to examine that,” Nickerson said.

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