LAND O'LAKES — The length of Thanksgiving break has become a monkey wrench in the proposed 2012-13 school calendar.
The district's calendar committee called for a week off. But superintendent Heather Fiorentino and her staff proposed only three days in the version they asked the School Board to approve on Tuesday.
United School Employees of Pasco president Lynne Webb complained, prompting the board to delay a vote for two weeks.
On one side are employee concerns. Workers haven't had raises in years and are looking for some sort of tangible benefit, Webb said. A week off for Thanksgiving — traditionally a time of high absenteeism — seemed a "no-brainer" to USEP leaders, particularly in a year when Veterans Day falls on a Saturday so it doesn't affect scheduling.
On the other side are academic considerations. The administration doesn't want to have lopsided semesters — its recommended calendar already had 85 days for the first term and 95 days for the second. The committee's version would change that to 83 and 97, very close to the limit for hours required to earn high school credits.
"I'd like to see them get the Monday and Tuesday off and get a week off," board member Steve Luikart said. "But taking two days from the first semester is going to impact students. … I tend to lean toward what's in the best interest of students."
The proposal that went to the board also seeks to keep semester exams before winter break, while meeting the state mandate that classes must not begin more than two weeks before Labor Day. No one wanted to move exams to after winter break as some districts, including Hillsborough, have done.
"It's amazing how much they forget" over vacation, said vice chairwoman Cynthia Armstrong, a former district teacher.
Board member Allen Altman asked for two weeks to look into options, and to hear from parent and students, before making a decision.