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School calendar revision
Later start reduces districts PG&E costs
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Trustees of the Manteca Unified School District last month passed a revised student calendar for 2010-11.

It was later that they discovered their error.

“The student calendar approved by the board did not balance out,” Superintendent Jason Messer said at Tuesday’s meeting. “We were off by at least five days.”

Trustee Vern Gebhardt noted it was important to reconsider the calendar by having the various employee groups place their input.

“I know you can’t make a decision like this in a hurry,” he said. “In doing so, we actually reduced the number of instructions days.”

The board voted 5-0 in favor of Revision No. 4 over that of No. 5.

Here’s the difference between the two calendars:

•Revision No. 4 called for Aug. 16 as the first day of school; a one-week break in November, with three days attached to Thanksgiving Day and day after; another week off in the spring (March 14-18); and May 31 as the last day of school.

•Revision No. 5 – strongly favored by the teachers in attendance – had Aug. 11 as the first day of the 2010-11 school year; a one-week break in the fall (Oct. 11-15); a minimum day that Wednesday prior to the four-day Thanksgiving weekend; the spring break (March 14-18); and May 31 as the last day.

Both revisions balanced out to 82 uninterrupted instructional days in the fall and 83 such days in the spring.

In the end, the board’s decision had something to do with cost.

According to Messer, Manteca Unified pays $5,000 more a month in PG&E power during August and July.

Gebhardt added that the district often loses ADA during the week of Thanksgiving.

However, New Haven School teacher Mardi White believed the week off in October is vital to quality education.

“That’s nine or 10 weeks from the start of the school year,” she said. “By then, students begin to burn out.

But without that time off in October, she noted teachers, in turn, would be forced to squeeze in too much instructional material to students between the Thanksgiving break and the December winter break.

Trustee Wendy King added, “I agree with the teachers on the break after nine weeks from the start of school, but (Revision 4) makes sense to me – we have to save money where we can. We’ll save money by starting later in August.”

Meanwhile, Messer praised the efforts of those involved in the revisions.

“This calendar had input from a lot of groups, from parents, students and the various employee groups,” he said.