The Hemet Unified School District (HUSD) Board of Trustees sent back for administrative consideration a proposal to revise the 2012-2013 school calendar to include a three-week winter break. The motion to revise the school calendar from the existing two-week winter break failed for lack of a motion to approve.
Prior to the board’s action, Idyllwild Middle School Teacher Diane D’Arcy addressed the board and recommended against adopting the proposal. She said the three-week winter break would negatively affect learning. She also recommended greater notice be given to the district’s academic and parent community about major schedule changes such as this. “A year’s notice would really have helped,” she noted. She urged the board to conduct further investigation into the consequences of an extended winter break and not jump on a scheduling bandwagon that other districts (San Jacinto and Temecula) have adopted.
Also questioning the efficacy of the proposed change, Trustee Paul Bakkam acknowledged benefits for some students — for testing purposes for high school students — but said the longer break would not work for elementary schools and students. Trustees Charlotte Jones and Joe Wojcik supported Bakkam in questioning the proposed winter break extension. Jones questioned the effect on working parents of the extra winter vacation week. Wojcik capped the board discussion by noting, “I need a compelling reason to change [the schedule], and I haven’t heard one.”
Idyllwild Trustee and Board President Bill Sanborn said this was a “head and heart issue” for him. He acknowledged the proposal would have allowed high school students to finish the semester and exams prior to Christmas break with a possible positive affect on test scores. But there were other issues that influenced Sanborn including the earlier start in August. “With an earlier fall start [Aug. 17] there would be greater expenses for cooling the schools,” he noted. “Also, I just don’t think it was the best thing to do for families.”
At this point, the calendar remains as it was pending any future board action. Sanborn said he is doubtful there would be any further change.