CCSD Board of Trustees adjusts school calendar Staff development days, shortened fall break planned for 2021

As she laughs with a friend, junior Zoe Schenk works on her last assignment before fall break on November 16, 2018. Next year, fall break will be shortened and students will only receive three school days off. "I think that it sucks that we don't have a full fall break anymore," Schenk said. "We as students are going to miss that time we had off, because it just kind of gave us a break from school and all the work." Photo Credit: Allison Felger

Because teachers are going back to regular staff development days, students’ Fall Break has been reduced to only three school days off, instead of the normal week.

After a discussion at the Sept. 26 board meeting with the CCSD Board of Trustees, a vote was taken and passed five-two to re-establish traditional staff development days and also extend the school year by five days. The two trustees against the motion were Trustee Linda E. Young and Trustee Danielle Ford.

I feel like if we don’t provide that week during Thanksgiving, because families and kids and teachers and staff have gotten used to it, that it’s going to be a packed board room in a year,” Ford said. “I think the board needs to start being way more proactive than reactive and I know it’s complicated, but I would like to find another solution to be able to continue that week off.” 

One of the biggest arguments against the three day Thanksgiving Break was that it would hurt staff morale. However, this was combatted with the thought that it might be easier for teachers to go back to having full staff development days, as they had this schedule prior to 2016-17.

“That week off was a big plus,” Young said. “Teachers worked hard to get that before and it was a morale booster because then they had the opportunity to get with their families and go out of town and come back and it was a nice break.”

Currently, CCSD is one of four districts with a full week break, including Douglas County, Lander County and Lyon County School District. 

“I feel that it was kind of unneeded to take away half of our Thanksgiving Break,” sophomore Masina Blackwell said. “Kids do really work hard and finish tasks given by teachers and the students, as well as teachers should at least get a week break. They gave us a break for a reason. It’s not smart to take it back now.” 

For the last two years, professional development took place either an hour before or after the normal contract time, instead of full-day trainings.

“I am not a fan, as expected,” Psychology and Freshman Studies teacher Miriya Julian said. “Professionally, I got more out of one hour every week than I did out of four days a year. The days never seem to be scheduled when we need them, like [they’re never] around the end of each quarter.”

The new calendar also includes five contingency days. This means students would have those days off unless there is an event like a snow day, in which case students would go to school. Previous calendars didn’t have contingency days, meaning when there was a snow day, the district had to figure out how to include that missed day in the calendar.

“It’s definitely a change,” assistant principal Donna Besser said. “I think that some of the teachers might like having it during the day versus after school once a week. For them, they a lot of times had to make arrangements for kids on those specific days, so now every day will be the same for them which might be easier.”

One final adjustment was incorporating time for state-mandated testing and athletic tournaments and championships.

“From a teacher standpoint, we’re on a path that they’ll be ready 3-4 weeks before then, and then it’s honing little things,” English teacher Robert Davis said. “The extra couple of days may allow individual students to work on a particular skill, but it’s not going to make a dramatic difference in my mind.”