Lisbon kicks around calendar ideas

LISBON — A move away from the traditional school calendar was discussed yet again by the Lisbon school board during a public hearing Thursday.

The board took no action on the matter, and changes aren’t anticipated for next year.

However, the board did discuss a variety of options to consider in the coming years, including holding classes year-round with three month-long breaks throughout the year.

Another option was to start classes earlier in August, with shorter breaks scattered throughout the rest of the year.

No matter what, the district is required to hold classes at least 178 days a year, Superintendent Joseph Siefke said.

“Having the first semester done before Christmas has been a godsend,” he said of the district’s current schedule. “If you support the first semester being done by Christmas and you want more breaks before you get there in the first semester you have to start before Aug. 20.”

He added that the idea to start classes earlier than Aug. 20 has not been met well by some in the past.

“We have tried that and we had some people who felt like that was cutting into their summer and it wasn’t a good enough start time,” he said, although he added he is not against revisiting that option if necessary.

Four teachers who attended to give an overview of a new reading and literature program during the regular meeting indicated they would not be pleased with moving the start date earlier in August.

Doing that would result in days off during other times of the year that are not currently being taken, like Columbus Day and after Thanksgiving, Siefke explained.

The teachers were not completely opposed to the idea of a year-long schedule that would result in a month off in December, a month off in April and a month off in August, although the fact that doing so would be difficult when it comes to falling in line with athletics and other county schools not on that calendar.

Siefke and board member Gary Peruchetti noted that other districts throughout the state have attempted to switch to a year-long calendar but it didn’t work out.

“There were some schools in the Dayton area that tried that and went back to the traditional calendar,” Siefke said.

Board President Gene Gallo said his concern is the two-and-half-month break for students during the summer.

He said he believes it is difficult to keep students involved in their education when they do not have classes for that long.

Gallo suggested more breaks between each nine weeks and a shorter summer vacation.

“I don’t like seeing students not crack a book open from May to August,” he said.

Siefke said the 2018-19 school calendar will likely not be presented to the board for approval until union negotiations are done.

He said the proposed calendar is similar to this year’s.