Unplanned Calendar Changes Due to Teacher Walkout

Letter from Dr. Frank Hewins, Superintendent of Franklin Pierce Schools:


May 5, 2015

Dear Families,

The last day of school in Franklin Pierce Schools has been changed from Friday, June 19 to Monday, June 22. A revised calendar reflecting this change has been posted to the district website at www.fpschools.org.

I want to share some background information about this unplanned calendar change for those who are interested because as a parent and grandparent, I know that calendar changes can be really disruptive to families and that the funding of our schools is a politically-charged topic. The decision about when to have a make-up day rarely presents a perfect solution, and this situation is no different.

This make-up day at the end of the school year has been scheduled because there is no school on Friday, May 8 due to a political walkout by some teachers’ associations throughout Washington state to influence lawmakers into adequately funding our schools. Please know this labor walkout is beyond the control of Franklin Pierce Schools, and yet we are so sorry for the inconvenience this may cause. This isn’t about our school district, but is an effort by teachers’ associations to influence the Legislature. We agree that lawmakers have failed to fully fund K-12 education for too many years. The walkout is a political strategy that teachers’ associations are choosing to use.

Advanced Placement (AP) exams that have been scheduled for Friday, May 8 will still occur as scheduled. Schools will contact parents directly if any after school activities or events -- including athletic actvities or events -- will be affected. Staff who are not working on Friday will not be paid for May 8, but will make-up the workday on June 22.

Before the beginning of the school year, Franklin Pierce Education Association and Franklin Pierce Schools collaborated on the calendar and built into the calendar pre-determined make-up days. The first make-up day was scheduled for April 24, but was not needed. The second make-up day is to extend the school year by 1 day, which makes Monday, June 22 the last day of school.

State law requires that children attend school 180 days. Children must be present for a certain number of hours each day in order for it to count as a school day. When school is closed, missed days must be made up. State law does not currently allow school districts to add minutes onto each school day to make up missed time. Our school district’s 180-day calendar is part of the contract with our labor associations.

Due to the impact on our families, we avoid cancelling school unexpectedly, unless we have severe weather or due to other circumstances such as this Friday’s school cancellation. We have been fortunate with a mild winter this year and currently only one make-up day is now needed.

Thank you for your patience and understanding, and please know that we always try to do what is best for student learning, even when things like politics or snow present challenges. Sometimes, school year calendars conflict with other family values such as preferences on when to take vacations and our Northwest summer weather. When it comes to the school calendar, we know there isn’t one perfect solution that will meet every family’s childcare needs and preferences. In the end, we strive to come back to what will have the greatest benefit for our children’s education.

Sincerely,

Dr. Frank Hewins