Coin flip sets dates for school
The teachers union and district officials negotiate calendars every two years, usually right after they’re done negotiating the teacher contract.
This year, negotiations dragged on for nearly a year, so the calendar-negotiating committees got together only recently.
But they couldn’t come to agreement.
State law states that if the two sides can’t agree on a calendar, the decision is made by the flip of a coin.
The coin flip happened Tuesday in the office of Superintendent Tom Evert, with teacher and district representatives present, said teacher Jennifer Fanning.
Sheryl Miller, district coordinator of public information, did the honors.
Fanning called “heads” while the quarter was in the air.
“It rolled and rolled in circles, and it finally came up heads,” Fanning said.
The random roll means the teachers’ preferences will govern the calendar for the next two school years.
District officials had pushed for fewer days off for Thanksgiving, winter and spring breaks in 2008-09. They wanted a longer summer break in 2009, which would have given construction workers more time to complete the high school expansion projects.
The teachers thought time off during the school year was more important.
“During the school year, students and teachers need sufficient amount of break time to be successful, and we had created a calendar that allowed for those breaks,” Fanning said.
The teachers’ calendar provides longer Thanksgiving, winter and spring breaks next school year, Fanning said.
Spring break, for example, will include an entire week plus the Monday after Easter.
But those longer breaks mean a longer school year. School will end for students on June 11, 2009, instead of what the district proposed, June 5, said Angel Tullar, manager of employee relations.
Fanning said she thought the two sides were close on the 2009-10 calendars and could have found a compromise.
But district officials preferred to get it over with, apparently.
Tullar said the difference between the two proposals wasn’t a big deal for the district.
“To be honest with you, all we want is a calendar” so officials can begin planning their own years, Tullar said.
And it’s likely that travel agents will be busy in the weeks ahead booking school-year vacations, Tullar suggested.
The calendar still is being prepared for publication. Still unknown are the dates for semester and quarter breaks and for conferences. Those dates are worked out with the principals, Tullar said.
Some key dates in the 2008-09 Janesville School District calendar:
-- First day of school Sept. 2, 2008
-- Thanksgiving break Nov. 26, 27 and 28, 2008 (Nov. 26 is a work day for teachers.)
-- Winter break Dec. 22, 2008, to Jan. 2, 2009.
-- Spring break April 6-13, 2009.
-- Last day of school June 11, 2009.