The October break for Ripon Unified students is now a thing of the past.
The board voted Monday to drop the week off from school and lengthen summer vacation starting in the 2013-14 school year.
Teachers Chris Johnson and Cameron Burton represented the Ripon Unified District Teachers Association as they went before the board in support of the proposed 2013-2014 academic calendar.
Johnson who serves as athletic director and varsity football coach told trustees that continuation of the week-long break in October would be at a cost of $5,000 in the form of a lost game that would not go into the district’s coffers.
Burton noted teachers voted 58 to 56 to eliminate the break.
Ripon High student trustee Blake Morrow voiced his opinion that the October break had been well used by students over the last several years and believed they would benefit from it being continued.
“Coming off summer vacation, the first two months of the year are the hardest,” Morrow said, noting the break is welcomed.
The committee assigned to study and underwrite a calendar proposal was made up of eight teachers. Five were from elementary schools and three from the high school.
Burton argued that the negotiators were attempting to get away from the “starts and stops” in the school year caused by breaks in school attendance. Both she and Johnson said they favored a week longer for the summer vacation with the school year that starts Aug. 14. If they had agreed to the October break the starting day would have been a week earlier on Aug. 7.
Burton added that the Thanksgiving break next year will be Thursday and Friday and not the entire week.
“We want to eliminate as many days off as possible because we have final exams before Christmas,” she said.
A mother of three elementary school girls, Marilyn Wynne, went to the lectern to voice her objection to the cut in the October break.
“I can tell you I have three girls – all elementary. We all enjoy taking the break in October. Those Ripon students really work hard in school with math and science. They need a break to reset themselves with their families so they can keep going in school. They need this October break,” she stressed.
Wynn said two of her girls have never missed a day in school and their goal is to get perfect attendance every year. Everything they are asked to do is stressful and stressful on us, she added.
Academic calendars throughout the state are negotiated between the school districts and their local teachers bargaining units on a district by district, year by year basis. This year the RUDTA convened their calendar committee to collect staff input which they brought forward to negotiations.
School Superintendent Louise Johnson said of the October break question, “While I personally have enjoyed the October break in years past, I respect the collective bargaining process and honor the dedication of our teachers and their teamwork and collaboration at the bargaining table as we have endured the budget cuts of the past four years together in a spirit of one district.”