You wouldn’t think a future school calendar would take up so much time at an Albia Community School Board meeting, but the way Christmas and New Years falls in 2019-2020, along with a state mandated early start date created a bit of angst and a whole lot of discussion at Monday’s board meeting.

The discussion of two Master Calendar Committee recommendations pitted the possibility of a very long, two-week plus Christmas break against the tradition of getting seniors out of school in May a week earlier than other students and having graduation ahead of Memorial Day.

In the end, tradition won out, students will head back to school a day after the new year and graduation will happen on May 16, a week ahead of both Memorial Day weekend and the state track meets.

The calendar also protects a popular Thanksgiving break Wednesday off and a Monday after Easter off.

At issue was New Years Day falling on a Wednesday and whether to get students back in school that Thursday and Friday, or scheduling Christmas vacation through Friday, Jan. 3, creating a 17-day break (including weekends). If you’re of the opinion that school boards are made up of rubber stamps for administration and school committees, think again.

Board members considered everything from families trying to get back from out-of-state holiday vacations, to the cost of child care and the problems caused to young working families when school is out of session, and keeping seniors fully engaged when May rolls around. At one point in the discussion, board members suggested the committee revisit the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Monday after Easter off to create the very long Christmas break and still have graduation prior to Memorial Day weekend.

There was also discussion about leaving it up to parents if they wanted to extend their Christmas vacation, having their students miss a couple of days of school and pre-plan making up school work.

“We wouldn’t be having this discussion if the state didn’t have a mandatory early start day of Aug. 23,” said Superintendent Kevin Crall. School will start on Friday, Aug. 23, which at first glance appears a little odd, but can actually benefit teachers and students who need an organizational day to get the year off to a good start.

In the end, the board voted to maintain the mini-breaks around Thanksgiving and Easter, get students back in class on Jan. 2 and hold graduation on the more traditional weekend before Memorial Day, May 16.

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