At the School Board meeting on January 24th, the School Board approved calendar B for the 2017-2018 school year. Calendar option B received overwhelming support from instructional staff and took 49% of the vote on a survey administered to instructional, non-instructional and administrative staff. Teachers were in favor of a Monday start date as opposed to the Thursday start date of calendar options A and C. They were also in favor of the full week off at Thanksgiving along with ending the school year in June so that health benefits were not discontinued over an extended period of time for employees who are on an annual contract who are non-renewed and then rehired shortly after. The costs incurred for Calendar B is “approximately $69,392 due to the cost of benefits for the month of June for an estimated 128 instructional employees that leave the district at the end of the school year due to retirement, resignation or non reappointment.”
Susan Pribil HCSD Teacher and HCTA Middle School Director, was in favor of Calendar B because of the full Thanksgiving Holiday, the Monday start date, but primarily for when the school year ends and the health benefit implications. She explained, “Calendar B ends in early June. We have many excellent teachers who are on annual contract and each year at the end of the school year… many of them get non-renewed because they don’t know what the allocations are. If we go only until May, those teachers will lose their health insurance even if they are rehired back in June, maybe a week or two later, they will not be eligible to get health insurance through the district until November.”
In considering the calendar decision School Board Member Mark Johnson said, “The question becomes in my mind, where do we want to put the dollars.” He clarified later, “If we pay for it out of health benefits, it’s not going to be there when it comes time for their raises.”
School Board Member Linda Prescott said, “I’ve taught in districts that don’t start on Mondays and everything that has been brought forward is the truth. Students come late and basically you lose more than just the two days they don’t show up, trying to catch everybody up…”
She continued, “I don’t think you can put a price on health benefits in today’s world… I think we need to listen to what our instructional support people are saying… from what I’m hearing last year the Board did not agree with the calendar the teachers requested… but that’s in the past. I am most definitely in favor of going with calendar B.”
Board Chair Beth Naverud explained that last year they were in a completely different budget situation and they were trying to avoid furlough days for the teachers.
Although wary of funding issues down the road, Johnson made a motion to adopt calendar B which passed 5-0.