Parents in the Amarillo Independent School District who questioned why school was in session this past Labor Day won’t have any reason for concern during the next school year.
By a 5-2 vote Tuesday, AISD trustees approved the 2008-09 school calendar, the same calendar submitted by the district’s calendar committee that was rejected by a 4-3 vote in December.
The reversal – trustees James Allen and Mary Faulkner changed their opinions on the calendar – should serve the entire district well, from faculty and staff to students and parents.
As was the case in December, the 2008-09 calendar includes a holiday on Labor Day, which was not the case this calendar year.
This rankled some parents, many of whom previously gave the school calendar only a passing glance in their children’s school folders or on the district Web site.
Other holidays for 2008-09 include the day before Thanksgiving; Dec. 22-Jan. 2 for Christmas/New Year’s break; and March 16-20 for spring break. Students will not be in class Martin Luther King Jr. Day, as also was the case this year.
The AISD will have to seek a state waiver since the calendar falls two days short of the required 180 days of class instruction, but many districts in the Panhandle-area request and receive such waivers, and this won’t be the first time for the AISD.
Actually, most of the problem districts have with school calendars rests with the state. The state mandates 180 days of instruction and sets a required state date of Aug. 25.
Throw in the state’s be-all-and-end-all of public education – the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills test – and all the rules, regulations and restrictions that go with it, and districts have little wiggle room on the calendar.
A two-day exemption won’t be a significant detriment to the quality of education in the AISD.
Thanks to two trustees changing their minds, the district has a reasonable calendar that – pending state approval – meets the needs of the wide array of individuals it must serve.