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By Tim Hunt

Time to switch school calendar

Uploaded: Jun 17, 2014

Pleasanton school trustees tonight will consider finally deciding to alter the traditional school calendar—the result of a very long process that some parents were quite slow to realize was taking place.
As the trustees consider the various options, they should be guided by one simple principle—what's the best calendar for students' instruction. One no-brainer is shifting the start of school earlier so the first semester is completed before the Christmas break as the staff recommends.
What's striking is the parent survey results that show just 10 percent favor the traditional schedule. It polled the lowest of any of the options. The district staff recommends a so-called "modified lite" schedule with school starting in early August and finishing in late May. Vacation periods will be similar to the current schedule with the exception of the addition of a one-week break in early October. Summer vacation still will be long—nine weeks instead of the current 10.
The changes are not that dramatic other than the earlier start and I suspect the fall vacation will become very popular.
There are reasonable arguments for shortening the summer break even more because student retention often suffers over a break of that length.
The changed calendar, if trustees approve, will take effect with the 2015-16 school year.

It was good to see four members of the Pleasanton City Council recognize what a huge contribution the late Mayor Ken Mercer made to the city in 16 years of service on the City Council.
The majority agreed to rename the sports park in honor of Ken and decided to do so despite a 2004 council resolution that required a five-year waiting period after a person's death.
Councilwoman Karla Brown voted against the motion, stating she favored the five-year waiting period. She also suggested that others, such as former Mayor Ben Tarver (who died in 2010) could also be worthy of being recognized with a similar honor.
That was a bit ironic because it was Mercer, as mayor, who gave Tarver his official start in Pleasanton politics when he named him to the Planning Commission. Tarver used that appointment as a platform for a successful run for City Council.
He later was elected mayor. My recollection of Ben's time as mayor was one of discord. It took years of work by his successor Tom Pico to bring a measure of civility back to the council proceedings that had become way too personal under Ben's leadership.