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Benicia Students Expected in Class on November 1

The need for more instruction before the end of the first semester and a desire to start school later means students will be in school instead of sleeping in on the day after Halloween.

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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If there’s something in this article you think should be corrected, or if something else is amiss, call editor JB Davis at 707-628-0051 or email him at benicia@patch.com.

Joe Feltcher November 01, 2012 at 04:45 PM
I don't remember ever getting November 1 off as a kid. Make the punks go to school. Why should it be a day off regardless?
JB Davis (Editor) November 01, 2012 at 06:57 PM
Dear Mr. Feltcher, They aren't punks. They are students, they are children, they are teenagers and some of them may not offer you the respect you believe you deserve, but that doesn't make them punks. It makes them kids who are growing up and learning how to function in society. While interviewing Dr. Gardner he mentioned that no other district where he has worked has taken the day after Halloween off and I certainly don't remember ever getting it off when I was a kid. The kids got the day off in the past because teachers elected to have that day set aside as one of their scheduled staff development (training) days. If school budgets ever get back to being fully funded, then we might see November 1 once again become a teacher training day.
Betty November 01, 2012 at 07:13 PM
I am somewhat new to the Benicia area and was very surprised that kids have off the day after Halloween and the full week at Thanksgiving. Our school year is so short compared to many other countries. I feel that we are not allowed to complain that our educational system falls so low in world rankings and then complain that the kids are not getting the day off after Halloween!
Jill Axline Roth November 01, 2012 at 07:24 PM
I am here visiting my grandkids and I live in Michigan where schools were never closed on November 1. However when I witnessed how pooped my two grandchildren were this morning from a day and night of partying, I thought an extra hour of sleep this morning was a wonderful idea. I believe if Halloween falls on a week nite, the following day should be a recupe day.
Joe Feltcher November 01, 2012 at 07:30 PM
The schools are so underfunded because for decades now the State has thought it wiser to supply money to over-generous pensions, welfare programs, prisons, and aid for illegals. Your Democrat controlled legislature feels these programs are more deserving of our tax dollars than silly things like schools, and parks.
Riley Willerson November 01, 2012 at 11:50 PM
Joe, state pensions for many is well deserved for CHP, Corrections, Firemen, City Police, they are careers with very high stress and that is one of the benefits of working in that type of work. Is it that you have now found yourself with out pension with medical coverage because of bad choices? Is it that you failed to plan for your retirement. Police Officers, public safety in general have a job that just may kill them in the line of duty, they have earned their pension. We all make the choice for our career, maybe you made a bad one. And who will pick the fruit and vegetables that you eat from the fields, for the most part sure wont be Legal Citizens, it will be green card and illegals that will. Americans refuse that type of work. Cracks me up when you and others complain about "Their taking Jobs" Safety Officers deserve their pension, its people like the City of Benicia's prior City Park Manager (Alvarez) who gets approx. 270,000 per year for his pension or Retired Deans of Universities 350,000+ that is wrong , now did they save a life or risk their own for others? I think not.
Robert Livesay November 02, 2012 at 12:50 AM
Riley you may want to fact check Alvarez yearly pension. It would have been about 2.7 % of base times years served. No healthcare beneit. His base salary would have had to been about $335,000 and thirty years of service. His base was not even close to that. He may have had a one time payment when he left the city that upped his final year salary payout. I would like to know where you got your info. Thanks Riley
JB Davis (Editor) November 02, 2012 at 04:55 AM
According to the CalPERS report Mike Alvarez is receiving 11,092 a month in pension. I dont remember how long he worked for Benicia but I believe it was 33 years. Here is the Patch article about pensions paid to former city employees: http://patch.com/A-xTJS
Riley Willerson November 02, 2012 at 11:44 AM
This info was reported from he Benicia Herald, the total amount was inclusive of benefits as well, not just his monetary compensation. THe point being is that often there are complaints, like Joe's regarding pensions, but they fail to realize the career that offered a great pension. 33 yrs of service, great, but to change the name of the 9th street park and 11,000 + per month ? Just my opinion Robert. Wow we are a bit off topic, Again. Have a great day Robert
Robert Livesay November 02, 2012 at 02:16 PM
Wow I am not off topic. Not at all. You made a statement and I new it was incorrect.. You stated $270,000 per year for his pension. You were only just over 50% off. I find that not an opinion but wrong facts and should be corrected. Statements like that which you use numbers that are that far off will hurt your credibility on issues and at the same time question your statements. Just a factual opinion.
Riley Willerson November 02, 2012 at 03:43 PM
Robert , once again you get so uptight and stuck being the fact checker police, I guess you really have nothing better to do in your life, sad, very sad. Although you have become part of the patch entertainment. I stated where the info was from, reported in the Benicia Herald when Alvarez retired, yet you continue to ramble, as if you were being questioned. you missed my point, not about pensions, its about people who complain about what people receive, especially Public safety. How about your opinion on that? Please entertain us with your wit and knowledge, fellow patchers look forward to humor of the day with Robert. "Get with the program" as you would say...
Riley Willerson November 02, 2012 at 03:55 PM
It still amazes me that Robert pigeon holes himself when ever he feels threatened., is he that thin skinned? Robert are you one of those adults that just continues to feel less than when others have opinions unlike yours? It is the need to feel heard validated, have you thought of yoga or zen practice to clear you mind from the monkey who runs wild in your head? Here is the challenge , just listen and do not respond. Let go Robert , breath in, breath out , feel better?
Robert Livesay November 02, 2012 at 04:31 PM
Riley make correct statements and I will not comment on your comments that are factually wrong. If not I am here to help you out. Folks want correct statements. It has nothing to do with me. Patchers want accurate info not some made up amount. Get your facts right and stop ragging on Mister Wonderful. Where did I pigeon hole myself. You are just mad because I called you out. Just say you were wrong and all is forgiven. Now be a good boy and say you were wrong.
Riley Willerson November 02, 2012 at 07:40 PM
and again, the info was from the paper, 270,000 in total compensation. You just can't let go, really, the patch wants accurate info? Media spins the articles as they see fit. But, you know that, just look at all the conservative and democrat he said, she said. You are such a fish in the pond, you continually react to what ever is thrown out into the water. I made a statement, that was all. I have nothing to apologize for, I stated what I read , fact or not ,it was printed. And you never gave your opinion of Public Safety Retirements, do you have one?
Riley Willerson November 02, 2012 at 07:42 PM
Robert, this topic is completed on my side. So, if you want to get in the last word be my guest.
Robert Livesay November 02, 2012 at 08:22 PM
I am for public safety retirement formula. I have no problem with their retirement. I have stated that in the past. Riley originally you said yearly pension. Now you are changing it to total compensation. In 2010 his last full year his total cost to the city was $224,547. His last year 2011 was a partial year and his total cost to the city was $176.928. That icludes all his vaction, sick leave etc when he left the city. So as you can see it never was $270,000. His retire pay is as stated and has no healthcare benefit. . Riley you made a statement on a per year retirement that was wrong. I do not care where you got the info. If I saw that in in the paper I would have asked for a correction or an entire explanation of the $270,000.
Robert Livesay November 02, 2012 at 08:45 PM
Riley i am not trying to one up you. Opinions are opinions. Statements stated as fast are different. People reading something that appears to be a fact can easily be convinced it is a fact and jump to the wrong conclusion. Riley I do not appreciate your comments about me. Correct me if I am wrong but lay off the not so nice negative comments about me. Again Riley I was not trying to put you down. If it sounded that way I apologize for the tone..
Robert Livesay November 02, 2012 at 08:46 PM
should be fact not fast
Riley Willerson November 03, 2012 at 06:04 AM
Fair enough Robert, point taken,
Riley Willerson November 03, 2012 at 10:38 PM
When it comes down to it Robert, I sound pretty judgmental myself. anyway, you are not the only person who keeps people looking at the patch, we all have are bias for this person or that person. So, keep on fact checking and putting it out there, free speech, a good thing to keep.

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