Parents win calendar skirmish |

Parents win calendar skirmish

by Merrie Leininger

Proponents of a single track school year for elementary students similar to the traditional calendar of the secondary schools were ecstatic following Tuesday night’s school board meeting.

The board members, after much discussion of the many calendar variations presented, voted to model the single-track calendar for the next two years on a version created by parent Connie Wennhold.

After the meeting, between hugs from jubilant parents, Wennhold said she was glad the board had compromised at this point.

“I am thrilled the board saw the common sense of not having a year-round calendar that is broken up so much. Most of us would love to have traditional, but this is a compromise. I’m thrilled the board did what is best for the students and families of the Carson Valley and I think teachers support it,” Wennhold said.

In the calendar Wennhold created, the students on single track would no longer have the three-week break in November, but instead have three weeks off at Christmas and have three weeks of spring break at Easter. The summer break would also be a little longer with six weeks spanning July and the first part of August.

Wennhold told the board during public comment – to loud and long applause – that her calendar would make many people happy. Teachers would have time in the summer to take courses at the University of Nevada, Reno, and offer reading camps and summer school. Families could take longer vacations because elementary students will be on a similar calendar to secondary students.

Some board members were leaning toward a calendar proposed by Assistant Superintendent of Personnel John Soderman.

Soderman said the district needed two years to completely study which calendar offers the best educational opportunities. He suggested a calendar committee be formed and a poll of the community’s needs be done.

But parents favored Wennhold’s suggestion and eventually won over the board, with the exception of Randy Wallstrum.

“Remember your childhood – that’s the magic calendar,” said parent Judy Keele. “It’s working in South Lake Tahoe. Don’t wait two years to change it. My daughter will be in college before you get around to changing it.”

Gardnerville Elementary School teacher Ken Dressler said the current calendar with many breaks was very difficult for teachers.

“It is very frustrating for teachers when a parent all of a sudden calls up and says they are taking the whole family on vacation and you are expected to get their make-up work,” he said. “I asked teachers to poll their students and 45 percent of students at GES have older siblings.”

Even parents who spoke up in favor of year-round said they felt Wennhold’s calendar was a good compromise.

Board members George Echan and Cheri Johnson were met with boos and hisses when they said they would support the district’s recommendation because they felt more time was needed to research the effect of year-round calendars on education.

After only three board members – Echan, Johnson and Wallstrum – voted for Soderman’s calendar, they both said they felt like their opinion was in the minority and voted for Wennhold’s calendar.

The board voted to continue with a study and in two years vote again to place all schools on one calendar.