BY VALERIE FOX
Many parents feel they were given a lack of information and the impression that days had to be added to the school calendars when we were originally given just 3 calendars to vote on. After parents voted on calendars, the Board did a presentation revealing that the middle and high schools did not need to add extra hours to meet HB130 requirements. The real reason the School Board is unnecessarily adding days to the calendars is now coming to light; it is money and the teacher’s union.
In an article by the Los Alamos Reporter, it gives the impression that Ellen Specter and Antonio Jaurigue still want to explore the “balanced,” or year-round calendar, likely in the first semester; hence, I feel the reason they warmed us up with Calendar C. Folks they are coming back to the trough next year, even though the community has twice rejected that idea. Money is the driving force for change.
According to this legislative study, https://mobidrive.com/sharelink/p/6C9HZ9OHPjdrnwEZmKvu6x4PGegbNiaZHYueCFCCqajr,
“All school districts will receive additional funding to increase learning time via the SEG, but some will not need to increase instructional hours, making funds available for investments in other local educational needs.” In other words, there is plenty of whipped cream, or money, to go around. Our middle and high schools do not need additional hours, just the elementary. The School Board is gunning for the cherry on top, additional money, if days are added. Then there is the question of why we are not adding time to Wednesdays for the elementary schools instead of days. The teacher’s union is the apparent answer.
Other schools in our state and across the nation have elementary kids doing a full day on Wednesdays. It would stand to reason that because they are adding time for lunch on Wednesdays, we could do a full day, right? Well, according to an online conversation with one of the union leaders, Christine Engelbrecht, the teachers have their prep time worked into a regular school day. I have asked Christine if the union would be willing to work with parents and extend the teacher prep time to 1 hour each day after school instead, making a 7 ½ hour work day, 8:30-4:30 less a 30-minute lunch. I do not have a response as of this writing.
Many parents feel our board misled us, gave us fewer options than we deserved, and then ignored us, choosing one of the least popular calendars. The School Board still has time to make calendar changes. The public deserves the right to vote on full days on Wednesdays for the elementary schools and no changes to the middle and high school calendars.