Board approves calendar, parents leave disappointed

It was standing room only as parents and students filled the Noblesville School Board meeting on Oct. 23. (Photo by Robert Herrington)

The Noblesville Board of School Trustees unanimously approved a balanced calendar for the 2013-14 school year following a failed motion to table the decision after parents asked the board to reconsider. Noblesville is now the only district not using a traditional calendar in Hamilton County.

Next school year will begin on Aug. 1 and end May 30. It includes two-week breaks in the fall, winter and spring, and any flex days needed would be scheduled the week of June 2.

Prior to the vote, School Board Member Chris Hamm said parents had made interesting points and suggested the board better inform the community and table the motion for 30 days.[poll id=”35″]

“I’m a little bit concerned of a public forum on a Monday and a vote a week later,” he said. “Parents have concerns or questions not addressed to their satisfaction. It’s a big decision for the corporation. . . What’s the harm in continuing this for 30 days?”

School Board Member Julia Kozicki, who made the motion seconded by Pat Berghoff, said two-thirds of the 3,686 survey participants supported the move. Supt. Libbie Conner said the biggest impact of postponing the vote would be vacation planning.

“We usually have a calendar a year in advance – way before now,” she said. “We’re cutting it close to do it now.”

Hamm’s motion was not seconded and after the unanimous vote was made most of the parents in attendance walked out of the meeting.

At the beginning of the meeting, parents like Norman Williams addressed the board. Williams, a father of four and school board candidate, said the board should provide additional time for the community to do more research about the balanced calendar.

“The message to parents is you’re not listening,” he said. “Give them time to think or do their own research.”

“It’s a little hasty,” added Amy Osgood. “I’m not able to voice my opinion as a parent or member of the community.”

Assistant Supt. Steven Stephanoff headed the 20-member study committee comprised of parents, teachers, school administrators and a high school student, which was formed after a 2010 community survey found support for investigating a move to a balanced calendar. The committee made a presentation to the school board in June. A community survey was done online for one week and a public forum was held on Oct. 15 – eight days before the school board meeting – at which time the survey results were released.

“Four thousand respondents is not a good cross section,” said Williams. “It seems rushed. . . What’s the hurry? Get it right.”

Laura Paris also expressed her displeasure in the district’s time table.

“I’m also concerned with the urgency of the vote. There’s no need to rush,” Paris said.

During her research, Paris said that balanced calendars do not impact middle class families that provide enrichments and non-traditional educational opportunities during the summer break. Instead, the data shows “low income, high crime and English as a second language in high population cities” are impacted academically by shorter summer breaks.

“There’s no academic benefit for balanced calendar,” she said.

Another concern raised by parents was childcare during the extended fall and spring breaks.

“There were no concrete answers for single parents or two income families and what to do with child care and how they’re going to be able to pay for child care,” Paris said.

Robert Herrington

Managing editor of Current in Noblesville. A 1999 graduate of Noblesville High School, Herrington has been covering Noblesville and Hamilton County as a journalist since 2004. The military brat lived all over the east coast before calling Noblesville home since 1994. He and his wife, Maggie, live in the community with their baby daughter (and youngest Boston Red Sox fan), Caroline. From school board to common council meetings, First Friday events and summer concerts in the city parks, Herrington loves to attend and cover all that Noblesville has to offer.

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2 Responses

  1. Voice unheard says:

    An out-going Board determins next year’s fate? Hmm…why not wait until after the elections and give the community more to research “balanced” calender. Maybe that’s just it, they don’t want us to research it for ourselves.

  2. Noblesville resident/parent says:

    The issue on the balanced calendar is another measure to get
    more school funding (and another reason for the school to put on a massive
    political action campaign to get residents to vote for an increased tax hike
    much like the past capital and operating referendum) as it was noted in the
    Brownsburg and Avon school district and to accommodate the school. Let’s look
    at the facts: (1) the 2011 fiscal calendar financial report shows that the
    total receipts/revenues is $97 million and the total expenditures/costs is $106
    million. The $136 million in exceptions
    is just transfers between accounts when one account has more than another and
    the money for a specified fund is moved around to cover for shortages
    elsewhere; (2) in the 2011 financial report, the school overspent in the
    construction fund – they had $28,305 and they spent $16,174,815; (3) based on a
    “survey”, the school is proceeding to build onto the high school, which is
    going to increase the school’s current debt and passed onto the Noblesville
    residents, tax payers, and parents; (4) Noblesville School Corporation is a
    public school. Dr. Conner contends that Indiana
    law does not prevent her from collecting fees from parents such as “consumable
    fees” like paper copying that the school justifies as for the student use even
    though such costs are technically “incidental costs” that arises out of
    teaching or in other words teacher-school related expenses and moreover is
    already covered under the state’s “general fund” and reported in the financial
    report; (5) the vote by the school board in October is based on a survey (which
    could be taken by anyone anywhere and not necessarily Noblesville residents
    whom are impacted) and not taken by an election that is to come in November by
    residents of Noblesville; (6) the survey is paid by the school; (7) there is no
    national certified, recognized, reputable, unbiased concrete scientific
    evidence to support the year-round school theory being better than the
    traditional calendar; (8) there are no links on the school website to view the
    results of the survey in detail (this was later added), the scientific measures
    taken, the name of the company whom managed the survey, and so forth; (9) of
    the 51,969 residents (based on a 2010 census) less the number of residents who
    are 18 and under or unable to vote, the school believes that 3,686 participants
    is a good sample size to make a unanimous decision; (10) Three of the school
    board members are resigning, the new board candidate’s comments to postpone is
    ignored, and the current President Jane Barr is seeking re-election. Why do you
    need to make an important decision that impacts children from 5 to 18 years,
    their parents, their jobs, their money, and their ability to “think outside the
    box” on account of the 65.6 percent (which is little more than 50% but not
    anywhere near 95%) who agreed? Haste
    makes waste. The current wasteful
    spending needs to be looked at closely instead of trying to reinvent the wheels
    and charging parents and Noblesville residents for costs that are adequately
    taken care of under the law.

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