Some Summit School District board members worry about equity as board approves 2022-23 calendar
The Summit School District Board of Education unanimously approved the 2022-23 district calendar at a meeting Thursday, March 24, but some worry that it will negatively impact working families.
The calendar has a start date of Aug. 16 for middle and high school students and Aug. 18 for elementary students. School wraps up on June 1, 2023. It also plans for five full weeks off for holiday, winter and spring breaks with nine additional days off for holidays and teacher work days.
The calendar largely mimics that of the 2021-22 school year, aside from adding two more days to Thanksgiving break so students have the entire week off. Some board members were worried that it amounted to too much time without school for families who are already struggling to find child care.
“The families that we have in our county, they are the workforce that doesn’t have … five weeks off, plus 11 in the summer,” said board member Gloria Quintero, who also works with Spanish-speaking families as a social worker for Summit County government. “We really need to take that into consideration. I’m mentioning it because this is part of my paying job, figuring out what to do with a lot of these kids during that time.”
Quintero added that many of the district’s families currently don’t have access to after-school care since Keystone Science School canceled its programs because of low staffing. She said many Latino families in the county resort to missing work when their students are off during those times.
Board member Johanna Kugler agreed with Quintero, suggesting that the district have a larger discussion about child care shortages throughout the county.
“If we’re going to have this calendar go out, I think we’re going to need to have a … child care discussion as soon as possible moving forward,” Kugler said. “… There isn’t much care out there right now. Otherwise it’s going to be an older sibling watching kiddos.”
While the equity issue is a concern, interim Superintendent Roy Crawford said that the district is hindered by a 175-day school year.
“I don’t debate the issue,” Crawford said. “I’m sensitive to that, I think most of our staff is. That would be part of a study — how do we arrange those 175 days to be as equitable as we can make them?”
Crawford added that district officials are also concerned about not overworking teachers.
The board agreed that the district should play a role in broader discussions about solving the child care issue.
“Communitywide, it’s a huge conversation and so far I haven’t seen the magic solution,” board President Kate Hudnut said. “ … There’s a lot brewing right now about how we make this a sustainable place to live for families.”
The board’s discussion about equity issues related to the calendar also fed into a larger conversation about the possibility of moving to a year-round school schedule. The board may consider pursuing that option in future years after doing more research about what that could mean.
Crawford said the year-round school model could help English language learners and other students who fell behind during the pandemic catch up. It would also mean families wouldn’t have to worry about finding or paying for care during the summer months.
Crawford said the district plans to start the process of gathering feedback about a year-round school model from the community and staff members as soon as possible. The goal is to not spring a new school model onto families and staff with little notice, he said.
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