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By Allison Jarrell
After much debate and heated public comment, the Capistrano Unified School District Board of Trustees voted 5-2 Wednesday night to approve an Aug. 22 start date for the 2017-2018 academic calendar.
CUSD students began school early this year on Aug. 25 following a March 2015 vote by the district board to adjust the academic calendar. The board also voted at that time to begin the upcoming 2016-2017 year on Aug. 15.
Those calendar approvals drew vocal opposition from some parents who criticized the lack of input and reasoning for the switch. The board responded to that criticism by forming a School Calendar Committee tasked with making a recommendation for the 2017-2018 academic calendar. The 37-member committee engaged residents with three public forums, input collected via email and a phone survey of 436 CUSD families. Their recommendations to the board were centered around educational programs, student holidays and consistency from year to year.
The Calendar Committee proposed four options for the 2017-2018 calendar Wednesday night: Option A: Aug. 15-May 31, Option B: Aug. 22-June 7, Option C: Aug. 28-June 13, and Option D: Sept. 5-June 20. Staff did not endorse Option D and recommended the board approve Option B.
“We believe this is a compromise for the parents and families who have expressed their desire for a post-labor day start,” Vital said, adding that polls showed 75 percent of respondents were satisfied with this year’s Aug. 25 start date.
Trustee Gary Pritchard moved to adopt Option C—Aug. 28 start date—with Trustee John Alpay seconding to continue the discussion. That motion failed 5-2. Trustee Jim Reardon later moved to approve staff’s recommendation, Option B—Aug. 22 start date—with Trustee Gila Jones seconding. That motion passed 5-2 with Alpay and Trustee Lynn Hatton-Hodson dissenting.
CUSD’s 2017-2018 school year is now set to start on Aug. 22, and the calendars for the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 school years will follow the same model.