District Doesn’t Want Another Vote: ‘Folks get really emotional when you talk about the school calendar.’
Superintendent Asking For Public Input For 2018-2019
While it may not impact the community for a couple of years, the Sioux Falls School District is already thinking about the 2018-2019 school year. The calendar won’t be set in stone until April, but given it’s controversial past, the district is asking for public input.
Sioux Falls School District Superintendent Dr. Brian Maher said, “It impacts family time, and any time you impact family, you draw emotions.”
Maher says if he’s learned anything, it’s that people get emotional over the school calendar.
Maher said, “I’m talking about students. I’m talking about teachers. I’m talking about parents. Really, everybody has some sort of attachment.”
The Sioux Falls School District witnessed that emotion in April of 2015. It received an overhaul after the decision was left up to voters.
Fifty-two percent agreed on a three-year plan to have school begin after Labor Day instead of in mid-August.
“The good news is when fair time comes around, you don’t have to miss any of those things so there’s plenty of time to end summer activities,” said Maher.
The bad news Maher says is district activities, set on a state-wide basis, begin regardless of when the calendar does.
“Our kids who are in involved in extra-curricular activities that begin in the fall, they’re coming to school anyway,” Maher said.
It also impacts AP students, who have to take their AP exams a month before class ends, leaving them with less time to study.
“Goal number one would be that we have a calendar that makes educational sense and goal number two would be that we have a calendar put together that makes sense for our community,” said Maher.
Now in the second year of the voted on three year plan. Maher says the last thing he wants is to have another vote.
Maher said, “What we’re really trying to do is have everyone weigh in on the calendar.”
Surveys were sent out to students, staff, and parents in November. The district is also holding input sessions so the rest of the community can have a say.
The first session is on Tues., Jan. 24 at the Lincoln High School Library at 5:30 p.m. The second is on Wed., Jan. 25 at the Memorial Middle School Auditorium at 5:30 p.m. During the meetings, the district says updates will be provided on the survey, the calendar process, and three calendar versions will be shared for community input.
After this process, the Superintendent says he hopes we’re done having calendar conversations for the next three or four years.