Approving the Instructional Calendar is one of the decisions that the Board makes that can have the greatest impact on our school community, and consequently brings up many feelings. This year our District staff decided to conduct a survey to get a sense of how the different stakeholders in our schools felt, to help the Board make a decision. When the Board reviewed the survey results, we had a lengthy discussion, raised many questions and asked the team to return with a proposal that addressed them. Consequently, the team returned with a proposal that changed the calendar so that the current 3-week winter break would return to being a 2-week winter break. This was surprising to many, including me, because despite the many issues that were raised, it seemed that this recommendation was not taking into consideration the strong preference of survey respondents to retain the last week of the winter break.
The recommendation emphasized the impact that the lack of childcare had on working families in that third week, and how this ultimately had a most significant impact on student achievement. This, compared to other issues, should be of the utmost importance to an institution like LAUSD. After a little reflection, I appreciated the points our staff made, and their courage to make this recommendation, despite how it looked. I can see why people would wonder why we did the survey in the first place.
In the future, when we conduct surveys, I think participants should be advised that while these stakeholders’ opinions represent a a very important part of the input necessary to help make a decision, they cannot always be the determining factor. In the end, I’m glad we conducted the survey and considered all points of view, and that we made the decision based on what was best for our families facing the most challenging circumstances, those who might be less likely to access our surveys.