For the first time in many years, Benicia Unified School District students will students will spend the day after Halloween in class instead of at home recuperating after a tough night of collecting treats and committing tricks.
According to Carleen Maselli, president of the Benicia Teachers Association, the change is a compromise between high school teachers who generally want to start the school year earlier so first semester finals are taken before winter break and elementary school teachers who want to start later allowing maximum time for young students to mature before beginning school.
In an email Maselli wrote, “Yes, a very strong majority of teachers at all levels voted to ratify the calendar and approximately 70% of teachers overall wanted to start school later rather than earlier when surveyed before a calendar was negotiated. However, high school survey results concerning the start date showed about 56% of the teachers wanting to start earlier for educational reasons ( August 15th opposed to August 22nd) with over 95% of the high school staff completing that survey.”
Students receive 180 days of instruction and starting earlier in August would have resulted in school ending in May. Assistant Superintendent Michael Gardner said surveys done before calendar negotiations helped guide the conversation. “”It was overwhelmingly in support of starting school later and ending school later,” said Gardner.
In past years the day after Halloween has been used by teachers as a scheduled staff development day. After state funding cuts reduced the number of staff development days, the day after Halloween was used as a furlough day.
Elementary school teachers were the biggest supporters of keeping kids home on November 1 because they felt students were often too tired to learn after being out late on Halloween night.
Another factor that came into play was the desire of everyone to take the whole week of Thanksgiving off.
Last year, during the 2011-2012 school year, an unscientific poll conducted by Benicia Patch showed 75 percent of those voting preferred to continue to keep kids home the day after Halloween.
What do you think of the change in this long-standing tradition in Benicia schools? Tell us in comments.
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