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By Tim Hunt

Challenging night ahead for school trustees

Uploaded: Sep 9, 2014

It likely will be a tough night for the Pleasanton school trustees this evening when they discuss whether to reverse their earlier decision to establish a new school calendar.
Some vocal parents have been bellowing about the board decision since the "modified lite" calendar was adopted in June. The adoption followed more than a year of outreach, including a parent survey, to encourage the community share its opinions. The complaint that people were unaware speaks to their ignorance, not to the district's outreach efforts.
The new calendar, scheduled to go into effect in August 2015 pending tonight's decision, has school starting in early August, a one-week break in October, two weeks at the holidays after the conclusion of the first semester, a one-week spring break and a nine-week summer vacation after school ends around June 1. For next year, the board already has directed negotiations with bargaining units to start Aug. 11 and eliminate the October break.
Change is rarely easy for anyone, but adjusting school calendars is way overdue. The board and staff leadership deserve credit for stepping up and tackling the issue. The one-year adjustment is an OK compromise, but the trustees should stick to their guns—their job is the best calendar to educate kids. Yes, they want parental support, but their job is not to make all parents happy. Once a new calendar gets established, then all of the peripheral activities (youth sports, etc.) will adjust accordingly.
And while leadership is taking a hard look, they should consider adjusting starting times to take into account research that shows the earliest appropriate starting time for teen-agers is 8:30 a.m. it is long past time to start school at the time that is best for students, not what is convenient for adults.

Congratulations are due to both the leadership and the donors of Pleasanton Partnerships in Education, which raised $330,000 during the registration period at Pleasanton schools.
That impressive total speaks to the high value that residents put upon quality schools and was up $55,000 from last year. The addition of an online giving portal likely helped by making it more convenient to give.

A salute also is due to Judy and Fred Porta who are giving $500,000 to the Las Positas College Foundation to support the early childhood education for children of students and staff at the Livermore campus. A new childcare center, which offers hands-on training for the college's well-established program, was part of the major campus expansion over the last several years.
The gift will be used for the new 2GenFund that will provide scholarships for toddler and pre-school age children of students.
Judy Porta taught at Las Positas for 20 years until retiring in 1996, while Fred was an architectural engineer. In 1965, they were one of five couples who founded the Diablo Valley Montessori School.