BOE panel

The full board must approve
a proposal to put more than
250 schools on the same timetable

Public school students would have one week off in the fall, three weeks in winter and a two-week spring break under a uniform statewide school calendar approved yesterday by a state Board of Education committee.


The Board of Education will consider a uniform statewide school calendar based on the following schedule:

School year begins: July 27
Fall break: One week
Winter break: Three weeks
Spring break: Two weeks
School year ends: June 7
Summer break: Seven weeks

Source: State Department of Education

The calendar, which also offers seven weeks in the summer, will go up for a final vote at a full board meeting in April.

School officials expect to adopt it in the 2006-07 school year.

The "1-3-2" option, which was approved 5-1 at yesterday's committee meeting, was the leading contender in a survey -- handed out earlier this year to staff, parents and students -- of five calendar proposals, all of which included the same number of instructional days.

The state Education Department also favored that choice in a report, presented to the board in a meeting last month, that accompanied the survey's results.

Last year, the state Legislature passed a law mandating a single school calendar as part of the Reinventing Education Act. The board must decide on an option by July 1.

State Superintendent Pat Hamamoto called for the calendar change, citing problems in coordinating payroll and other administrative issues for more than 250 schools in the islands.

Many parents who have children on more than one public school calendar say they also face logistical difficulties, especially during vacations.

"I am a proponent of anything that gets us back on one calendar," said Ronald Lockwood, a McCully/Moiliili Neighborhood Board member.

Two of Lockwood's three children attend public schools with different calendars. The third goes to private school.

"Those of us with more than one child," he said, "just have had an enormous amount of frustration ... (making sure) to be home with our children or finding adequate and affordable" supervision.

But Lolita Takeda, whose two children go to schools in Kapolei with different calendars, has never had any problems with their schedules. She did say, though, that community programs for youth need to keep up with the school calendar changes and make sure affordable services are available during breaks.

"One of the top concerns among parents," said the parent volunteer for both Kapolei high and middle schools, "is what are their options, or what is out there for their kids."

According to the state Department of Education, about 80 percent of those who responded to the calendar survey rated the 1-3-2 calendar as "popular" or "acceptable."

Few had a strong dislike for the choice, the department said. Student instruction in the 1-3-2 calendar would likely start on July 27 and end on June 7.

A 2-3-2 option -- featuring a two-week fall break, three-week Christmas break and two-week spring break -- won the highest "most preferred" rating, but it also had high negative ratings, the report said.

The most unpopular choice was the so-called traditional calendar, with its two-week Christmas break and a summer vacation as long as 10 weeks.

In the past decade, many schools have moved away from the traditional calendar.

Several national studies have suggested the long summer break in the traditional calendar's instruction might have a negative impact on comprehension and retention, especially among economically disadvantaged students.

This school year, about 63 percent of public schools in Hawaii use various year-round configurations that shorten the summer break and allow more time off at other times during the year.

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