BOE sets up new school calendar
Summer break will be lengthened starting in the 2009-10 year after the 10-1 vote
HANALEI, Kauai » The Board of Education overwhelmingly approved a change to the school calendar last night, lengthening the summer break and shortening breaks during the school year.
With no public testimony heard and only about 20 minutes of discussion at the meeting itself, the board voted 10-1 to approve a new 2009-10 school year calendar. However, the board did receive 83 letters of testimony both for and against the proposal.
Despite it being a "hotly debated issue," Superintendent Patricia Hamamoto said the new school calendar would benefit the students by giving them more time for instruction when they needed it most - notably before the achievement tests and the college ACT in the spring.
"I believe (the new calendar) will benefit our students," she added.
However, when board member Garrett Toguchi asked how the Department of Education will track how the new calendar will help, Hamamoto said there is likely no data that can be taken alone to support the decision.
The main dilemma with the current school calendar, which has breaks totaling one week in the fall, three weeks in the winter and two weeks in the spring, is the lack of time to have a good summer school program, said Maggie Cox, a school board member.
"It is brutal to sit in school (in summer) from 8 to 2 p.m., teaching one subject the student has already failed," Cox added.
She said, though, that "the school calendar isn't the most important thing," and more information is needed to do something about summer school.
In 2007 only 41 schools plus the online e-School said they would have summer classes - down from 53 in 2006 and 76 the year before - because of the brief summer. About 5,600 isle students are in summer credit recovery programs, according to the Education Department.
Breene Harimoto, the lone board member who did not support the change, called for a deferment, saying he "had some concerns" and was worried that people did not have enough of a chance to provide input on the matter.
His motion to defer was defeated.
The proposed calendar would have school starting on July 30 next year, and the second semester would end on May 26. The new school year will have breaks of one week in the fall, two in the winter and one in the spring.
This year, school started July 28 and is scheduled to end June 5.