2019-2020 CALENDAR PLANNING
At the direction of the Laguna Beach Unified School District Board of Education, district administration, staff, and stakeholders have begun the process of evaluating the current instructional year calendar to assess opportunities for improvement.
On April 12, a Board Study Session was held to present a recommendation to restructure the student instructional year in 2019-20 and gather initial public input. All information presented at the study session, including the presentation itself, is available below.
At the conclusion of the study session the school board provided administration with direction to provide an FAQ and comments from the study session, survey all parents and staff in addition to students in grades 8-12, have additional discussion with elected school site council representatives, and obtain additional data from the City of Laguna Beach and local art festivals.
This page will be updated regularly with additional information as the process develops.
The committee recommended a calendar configuration for 2019-2020 based on the following priorities:
The school year is designed with an optimal arrangement of 180 instructional days for all students.
Students will be able to focus on family activities with no school the entire week of Thanksgiving without missing instructional time and have fewer absences due to travel.
Students will conclude first semester instruction and finals at the winter break, allowing natural breaks from the curriculum.
No homework will be assigned during winter break, supporting student social-emotional wellness and time on which they can focus on family and holiday activities.
All non-students days are aligned K-12 so that families with students at multiple age levels have the same days off.
Additional non-student days allow convenient opportunities for college visits and other brief trips without disruption to instruction.
Students will have more instructional time with their teachers and less use of substitutes with more non-student days in the school year.
Seniors will have more access to counselors and other staff in preparing for college and post-secondary opportunities.
Students will be able to participate in summer camps, college visits and orientations, and other summer activities that are held in June without missing instructional time.
Students will have increased opportunities to enroll in community college and career-technical education courses.
Students who participate in fall athletics will be able to participate and support competitions that better align to the school year.
The following are questions, comments, and assumptions that surfaced at the April 12 Board Study Session.
- How many committee members have or had students in LBUSD?
Seven committee members have children who currently attend LBUSD schools. Three additional members have students who previously attended LBUSD schools.
- How was the committee chosen?
Employee associations, such as CSEA and LaBUFA, self-selected representatives. Principal representatives were selected from elementary, middle, and high school. Two school board members expressed interest in serving on the committee. Parent representatives were selected based on previous involvement in calendar considerations and/or involvement in parent leadership roles.
- Why are we asking this question again?
During negotiations in 2017 with our employee associations, there was a desire to form a committee to discuss the student instructional year. The school board agreed to form a stakeholder committee to explore current practices related to the school calendar and determine, based on need, whether or not any changes should be recommended.
- Is this change for the sake of change? Are we changing because of trends or are we changing because it will be better for our community?
The committee process was used to review data, including other districts' schedules and reasons for starting earlier, and determined that further discussion or consideration of a calendar change was warranted.
- What is best for all kids?
One-third of our students attend the high school, and all students in elementary and middle school will eventually go to high school. All students are impacted by the instructional calendar. The committee recommendations were based on data related to students.
- There were lots of missteps in communication over the calendar. The process has flaws which leads to anger and frustration. There could have been more parent input. Was the community underestimated?
The study session was the first step in engaging the Board, community, and parents in the process. The committee process was used to review data and determine if further discussion or consideration of a calendar change was warranted. If the committee had recommended that no change was appropriate, the topic would not have been brought to the school board and larger community.
- Can we add the elected school site council reps to the committee?
The school board provided direction to staff to have further calendar discussions with elected school site council representatives. These representatives are: Mark Costanzo (LBHS), Jacquie Cohn (LBHS), Sarah Durand (TMS), Marina Flores (TMS), Amy Neufeld (TMS), Christina de Bretteville (TMS), Alison Trotter (ELM), Lisa Bareth (ELM), Angela Harris (ELM), Alina Plaia (ELM), Barbara Evans (TOW), Jennifer Seybold (TOW), Phyllis Fang (TOW), and Mark Nelson (TOW).
8. Is this change to ease the schedules of the district employees who have students not in Laguna?
The committee's interests and priorities were focused on educating the whole child, including academic, extracurricular, and social-emotional needs. While staff members were on the committee to share experience about what is in the best interest of students, the committee did not prioritize staff needs in developing the recommendation.
- How does starting 1-1/2 weeks earlier help AP testing?
According to staff, an earlier start would support students enrolled in AP programs. Since AP exams have a national set of testing dates we are disadvantaged by starting later than most other schools in the country. In addition, almost every AP course at LBHS has a required summer assignment. Data shows that students often sign up for an AP course in the spring for the next school year and drop the course at the beginning of the school year. This is often the result of students waiting until the last minute to complete the summer assignment and some find that they cannot get the work done in time, thus deciding to drop the AP course.
- Should we look at trimesters?
Trimesters continue to be in place at the elementary level. Trimesters were not examined due to the complexity of implementation at the high school. This would require changes to the way credits would be awarded to students and classes would need to be reorganized into thirds, including major shifts in the way curriculum is covered. The discussion regarding the school calendar did not include potential bell schedule changes at our high school.
- What is the impact on AP summer work?
According to staff, an earlier start would support students enrolled in AP programs. Since AP exams have a national set of testing dates we are disadvantaged by starting later than most other schools in the country. In addition, almost every AP course at LBHS has a required summer assignment. Many of our students wait until the last minute to complete the summer assignment and some find that they cannot get the work done in time, thus deciding to drop the AP course.
- Why change the schedule if AP enrollment and scores are improving?
Students are required to take on summer assignments in order to be prepared for the test in May. In years when Labor Day is late, our students have five weeks of instruction post-AP testing week. One benefit of the proposed calendar is to provide students and teachers additional days of preparation and reduce the need for substantial AP summer assignments. See question 6 for trends on AP enrollment and passing scores.
- What is the percentage of students enrolled in AP compared to the entire student body?
Thirty-five percent of high school students are enrolled in AP courses.
- Is AP enrollment increasing statewide/nationally/locally?
AP enrollment is increasing in all areas.
- Based on the numbers provided after initial enrollment, how many students actually completed an AP course?
Over the last three years an average of 20% of students who sign up for an AP course drop the course.
What place is LBHS in for Orange County high schools (state testing)? Middle Schools? Elementary Schools?
Test score comparisons can be made here.
- What is the college application impact? Is it still an issue and how does it impact LBUSD?
According to the high school counseling staff, our current calendar impacts the college application process. The Common Application opens August 1st each year. Most early deadlines start on November 1, but increasing numbers of highly recruited athletes are asked to submit applications as early as September. These students have to navigate most of the application components on their own since LBUSD does not start school until after Labor Day which results in a panicked start to their senior year. Resources such as our college and career center are not available immediately as we are impacted by the opening of school, thus delaying the ability to assist students with the attention we would like to give. It is not uncommon for kids to start asking for letters of recommendation the first week of school as they are receiving pressure on the college end to get their applications in ASAP.
- What is the impact on transcripts and early admissions for college?
According to UC Admissions personnel, last year there were approximately 30-35 California high schools who notified them that they would not meet the July 1 transcript deadline. We do not know how many students those 30 high schools represent, but considering that there are almost 4500 high schools in California, we would assume the number is relatively small. The vast majority of California schools and students can meet the July 1 deadline.
Every student who is offered admission is provided with information about their “conditions” for admission. This includes submitting transcripts and test scores by the required deadlines, as well as maintaining a certain level of performance in the senior year. This information is also very likely included in the student portal and is included in campus and UCOP websites. This year, students will also be sent reminders via email or the portal about any upcoming transcript deadlines.
The UC Admissions office keeps track of each school who notifies them about their inability to meet the July 1 transcript deadline. In late June, they will send that list of schools to the campuses so that they can exclude those students from any punitive actions (at least temporarily – that’s why they need an estimated date when transcripts will be available). Those students will continue to receive the reminder emails, and their portals will still reflect the July 1 deadline.
- What are the community college schedules?
Saddleback Summer Sessions for 2018 are scheduled as follows:
May 29 | Summer Sessions begins
June 4 | Session 1
June 18 | Session 2
July 2 | Session 3
- What is the impact on students who want to attend community college while enrolled in high school?
The start dates for community college classes are not in line with our calendar which limits student availability to concurrently enroll. Many students would like to take summer courses but they are generally limited to the online options because courses begin in early June.
- What did the student survey consist of?
The survey initiated by the committee surveyed students in grades 9 through 12 regarding their summer employment history and plans. It did not include questions regarding the school calendar; 170 students took the survey.
- What is school administrators/principals preference? This is good to know since we respect their opinions.
Three of the four principals were members on the committee and supported the recommendation. Other administrative employees will be surveyed as part of the upcoming survey process.
- Can we survey ALL students? What are students perspectives regarding moving the schedule at all levels? Can teachers/staff/parents/students be surveyed?
The Board provided direction to staff to survey students in grades 8 through 12.
- What additional feedback will be solicited?
A survey will be sent to all parents and staff, as well as students in grades 8 through 12. Staff will have further calendar discussions with elected school site council representatives.
- Can we make the poll/survey mandatory for students?
No, the law requires we allow students the ability to opt out of surveys. However, the survey will be conducted during the school day and students will be encouraged to participate.
6. When will this survey take place? How likely is this change to go into effect for 2019?
The survey will be deployed in the next few weeks (mid to late May). The Board will make a decision on the 2019-2020 calendar in the next few months.
- Is there data on attendance on Friday before Thanksgiving?
- Do students usually miss school during the President holidays?
The committee reviewed attendance data in the days surrounding mid-winter break. The average attendance rates for days surrounding mid-winter break are:
The district is legally required to have two holidays observing Lincoln's birthday and President's Day in February. The mid-winter break in February has been in place since at least the 1988-89 school year.
3. What are the percentage breakdowns of days missed the day before Winter break and Spring break?
Day before winter break:
Attendance varies depending on how close the day before winter break is to the Christmas holidays.
Day before spring break (Friday before Easter):
Beginning in the 2018-19 school year, spring break will no longer be tied to the Easter holiday.
- What are the costs associated, such as air conditioning?
Based on current utility data, we do not anticipate increased costs.
- Will this mean more indoor time in August?
According to the Laguna Beach Official Visitor Center, the average temperature in August is the same as in September. More indoor time than usual is not anticipated with this proposed calendar.
- Are we looking for academic quality or the whole child?
The committee's interests and priorities were focused on educating the whole child, including academic, extracurricular, and social-emotional needs.
- Can we have a policy for no homework over any breaks?
The committee recommends that all students are not assigned homework over the winter break. At this time, there has not been a discussion about homework over additional break periods.
- Is it academically driven, or driven by social/emotional reasons?
Several studies, articles and books support the need for student and staff downtime.
- Targeted breaks can be a way to improve student learning
- What Kids Need for Optimal Health and School Engagement
- Why Your Brain Needs More Downtime
- Study shows that breaks for teachers are incredibly important for their psychological health
EXTRACURRICULAR AND ATHLETICS
- How do we manage finals with other activities, such as performances, events, etc.?
Performing Arts would have the option to have a pre-holiday production or a post-holiday production which could potentially alleviate the need to have all performances prior to the break during a typically hectic pre-holiday window. Finals would be managed and balanced regardless of the timing the same way students and teachers would typically navigate this.
- Would festival times change?
The district is not involved in determining the festivals' dates or schedules.
- Would the busses be more delayed by starting in August?
Based on current LBUSD bus data, the following chart provides the total number of days buses late due to traffic congestion in 2016-2017. Data was provided on late buses after school. Durham tracks only late buses that are 10 minutes beyond their scheduled bus stop time. The late buses included here were only due to traffic. There were late buses in other instances that were due to breakdowns, etc.
- Has there been communication with other community groups (such as the festivals, Pageant)? Has anyone contacted the three festivals to see if they are willing to change their schedule?
The school board has provided direction to obtain data from festivals and city. The study session was the first step in engaging community and parent input in the process. The committee process was used to review data and determine if further discussion or consideration of a calendar change was warranted. If the committee had recommended that no change was appropriate, it would not have been brought to the Board/larger community.
The district has requested data from the Festival of the Arts and Sawdust Festival regarding daily attendance for the last three weeks of the festival season for the last three years of to help determine traffic impact and trends. The district has also requested data from the Festival of the Arts and Pageant of the Masters regarding the total number of students from LBUSD schools that volunteer during the summer. To date, we have not received the information but will provide an update if and when it is received.
- How is the city adjusting (trolley, parking)?
The City commissioned a Laguna Canyon Road Traffic Condition study in August 2017.
In addition to the city ridership data, the City of Laguna Beach is also making some modifications to the Trolley service for the upcoming summer. The Festival Coastal and Canyon service will be starting earlier this summer on June 18, 2018. The service will also be modified with reduced frequency starting August 20, 2018, through September 2, 2018.
- How many students are employed during the summer and where do they work?
The district's data around work permits indicates:
|City of Laguna Beach||36||40|
|Festival of the Arts||24||24|
|All Court Tennis||11||6|
|Deb's Deli (inside Sawdust)||8||4|
This does not include students 18 and older who are not required to obtain work permits.
6. What has the Boys & Girls Club seen so far as attendance during breaks (like Thanksgiving)?
BGC stated that 47 students from Capistrano Unified School District attended the BGC the Monday and Tuesday of Thanksgiving Break in 2017. BGC has indicated that it would be able to adjust to a calendar change with enough notice.
7. How would City of Laguna Beach Marine Safety adjust their staffing?
Currently, the Department of Marine Safety does not foresee substantive impacts to staffing capacity associated with the transition of the Laguna Beach Unified School District to an earlier school year start. The department employs approximately 120 seasonal staff members, with seven percent of the employee-pool attending the Laguna Beach High School. This number does not reflect a significant reduction in staffing and can be backfilled by other Marine Safety employees not affected by the schedule change.
The Marine Safety Department has been adjusting deployment in recognition of the increasing number of school districts adopting earlier schedules. The transition in other school districts has created more staff availability during early June.
The Department will continue to monitor the transition of K-12 instruction schedules and recommend adjustments to best serve residents and visitors on City beaches.
- Is this entire change directed towards the high school?
The committee identified benefits for elementary students that include having the ability to participate in summer camps and clubs earlier in June and aligned non-student days in K-12.
- We get out so late, why not just add in June instead of starting in August?
The recommendation was designed based on the optimal arrangement of instructional days. Typically, days in June after state assessments and AP testing are not as instructionally-focused as the days earlier in the school year. In addition, high school students have college orientations and colleges require final transcripts for high school admission in June. LBUSD's current calendar already pushes against the timelines established by the colleges and universities. Of the over 4,500 high schools in the United States, LBHS is only one of 35 high schools in the US that has to ask UC for a delay in sending final transcripts. Extending the school year in June would worsen the problem and would have a greater impact on AP courses, as there would be fewer instructional days before the tests in May. Students wanting to participate in summer programs would be affected as they already are not able to participate in some due to our late graduation/final dates.
- Why are we not talking about ski week/spring break adjustments? They are very close together 25-28 days between winter break and ski week.
The recommended calendar for 2019-20 was designed with six weeks of instruction between winter break and mid-winter break and six weeks of instruction between mid-winter break and spring break. Beginning in 2018-19, the school board-approved calendar no longer connects spring break to the Easter holiday in order to provide balanced instructional periods in the second semester.
- How long has the current calendar configuration been in place?
District records show the current calendar configuration has been in place since at least the 1988-89 school year.
- What is the required number of instructional days and minutes?
Current California Education Code requires all school districts to offer at minimum 180 days of instruction. The instructional day requirement corresponds with the minimum number of instructional minutes at each grade level: High School= 64,800 minutes in 180 days, Grades 4-8= 54,000 minutes in 180 days, Grades K-3= 50,400 minutes in 180 days.
- What is happening in other districts that have moved?
The committee conducted a survey of districts that moved to an earlier start date. Reasons indicated for other districts' movement are located here.
- Is there data to show that ending before winter break is better?
There is not one specific indicator that definitively indicates that ending the first semester at winter break is better. The Committee reviewed data related to student engagement, social-emotional wellness, and increased access to extracurricular and college and career readiness opportunities and concluded that ending the first semester at winter break is a better option for students.
- What are the implications for out years?
Hypothetically, if the school board approved a calendar structure based on the committee's recommendation in the out years, the start and end dates for 2020-21 would be August 19/June 17 and in 2021-22 would be August 18/June 16.
- Could breaks be evaluated in order to lengthen summer?
The Committee considered several options and configurations of break periods, including shortening or lengthening existing break periods and a year-round school calendar option. The Committee recommended that break periods align with natural breaks in curriculum whenever possible.
A study from the Brookings Institute conducted in 2017 reviewed the impact of summer breaks on student learning. A comprehensive review of the literature summarized several findings regarding summer loss. The authors concluded that: (1) on average, students’ achievement scores declined over summer vacation by one month’s worth of school-year learning, (2) declines were sharper for math than for reading, and (3) the extent of loss was larger at higher grade levels.
- How many actual additional instructional days are they getting before the testing in May with additional PD and vacation days?
About 5 to 8 days, due to the potential additional instructional time in the schedule because teachers can be pulled out of the classroom less for professional development. The average teacher is pulled out three days a year for professional development which is backfilled with a substitute. The increase in the number of instructional days could be more in years when Labor Day is later in September. Our goal is to have as much instruction as possible prior to students sitting for the CAASPP tests in May.
- Targeted breaks can be a way to improve student learning
- What Kids Need for Optimal Health and School Engagement
- Why Your Brain Needs More Downtime
- Study shows that breaks for teachers are incredibly important for their psychological health