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In the past 6 months, the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) charged the Calendar Committee to look at the start dates for the 2015/16 and 2016/17 school years.  District Deeds profiled the effort both in its inception and when the SDUSD Board of Education denied the early start date implementation for lack of consultation with SDUSD Stakeholders (link: SDUSD School Calendar Change).

To monitor the Stakeholder “consultation”, District Deeds attended multiple Cluster committees, Cluster Congress meetings, DAC meetings in Elementary, Middle and High Schools where the School Start Date has (and sometimes hasn’t) been presented by SDUSD Personnel and reviewed ALL the online documentation provided on sandi.net.

Our conclusion is that the SDUSD School Start Date should remain AFTER Labor Day…for FOUR solid reasons…all related to the process and the edict demanded by the SDUSD Board of Education that ALL Stakeholders be fully informed, included and accurately solicited for feedback.

Here are the FOUR Reasons:

  1. NO Financial Analysis on What It Would Cost to Change the Calendar to Pre-Labor Day.

District personnel when asked that question replied “We did not do that analysis.”  How can the District and Superintendent that are asking all SDUSD Stakeholders to support them in asking the State to give them more money NEGLECT TO REQUIRE A FINANCIAL IMPACT ANALYSIS ON AN ISSUE THAT WILL IMPACT 100% OF THE SDUSD STUDENTS?

This lack of financial governance and oversight alone should eliminate the change to pre-Labor Day.

  1. Inaccurate Information Provided to Stakeholders Regarding the School Start Date.

In virtually EVERY presentation provided by District Staff…at the Cluster Congress…at the DAC…at the Cluster meetings, District Staff misrepresented a critical issue that could significantly sway the Stakeholders to choosing the post Labor Day start…that the decision to start early is just for the 2016/17 school year

THIS IS FALSE!  The decision to start BEFORE LABOR DAY is PERMANENT according to a SDUSD Official when asked directly about future years.   In ALL of the presentations and documentation this inaccuracy was repeated over and over…at least until District Deeds spoke up at each meeting attended to set the record straight.

The reference that the SDUSD Official used to back up the “permanent” premise was:

“The Board is interested in schedule continuity.”

Translated for SDUSD Stakeholders this means: “Whatever you choose will be permanent. “

This inaccuracy has prevented TRUE Stakeholder collaboration and skewed Stakeholder responses to the favor the pre-Labor Day start.

This distribution of inaccurate information alone should eliminate the Calendar change to pre-Labor Day.

  1. Incomplete and Unbalanced Information Provided to Stakeholders Regarding the School Start Date.

Again, in virtually EVERY presentation provided by District Staff…at the Cluster Congress…at the DAC…at the Cluster meetings, District Staff presented a one sided sales job to promote the pre-Labor Day start with only information SUPPORTING that choice.  NO information was provided SUPPORTING LEAVING THE CALENDAR AS IT CURRENTLY IS…POST LABOR DAY… despite an overwhelming majority of robocall respondents in November/December 2014 were IN FAVOR OF KEEPING IT POST LABOR DAY! (Attachment 9 – Parent Phone Survey Results)

An interesting example of this occurred at the March DAC meeting.  The DAC Chair, (who was actually ON the Calendar Committee supporting the pre-labor Day start date), when confronted with the lack of information at the Cluster Congress Meeting insisted that when the DAC received the presentation, there would be a “pro/con” comparison for both pre AND post Labor Day Start Dates.

When the Calendar Presentation was made at the March DAC Meeting, NO Pro/Con was included…and it has still not been compiled!

So even when confronted with the incomplete and unbalanced information issue IN ADVANCE at the Cluster Congress meeting in February, the MONTH BEFORE ALL the Cluster and District Advisory meetings were held, NOTHING was done to correct the issue through any of the Stakeholder outreach efforts by the SDUSD.

There is NO WAY true Stakeholder Collaboration can occur when the Stakeholders only receive PART of the information…this PROVES that the SDUSD Board of Education requirement for Stakeholder feedback was NOT completed and is grounds for eliminating the change to pre-Labor Day for 2016/17 and beyond.

  1. Stakeholder Feedback Mechanism has No Defined and “Accuracy Verified” Process, Procedure or Proof that ALL Stakeholders (or even what PERCENTAGE of SDUSD Stakeholders) have been consulted.

According to an article named ”Fair, Accurate and Accountable Voting Systems” the authors mention that “There are three steps in the voting process: determining who is eligible to vote, casting the votes, and counting the votes.”

We have already determined that there is no accounting in the SDUSD to determine who is eligible to vote…so proceeding on to casting and counting, the Authors provide the following guideline:

Vote Casting

  1. The voter should be able to easily and clearly express his intent.
  2. The voter should be able to easily check that his intent has been expressed and correct or exchange his ballot if it has not.
  3. There should be no way to identify the ballot of any voter.

 Vote Tallying

  1. There should be a rapid and accurate method of tallying the votes.
  2. There should be an audit trail available to permit any inaccuracies of the original tally to be corrected.

Some of the components illustrated above are minimally represented in the SDUSD Stakeholder Collaboration effort by SDUSD Staff but the structure, tracking and fairness of the process is TOTALLY subjective and inaccurate.

In addition, MANY SDUSD Employee Stakeholders (Teachers, Principals, Staff), who are OPPOSED to the pre-Labor Day Calendar Change ARE AFRAID TO EVEN VOICE THEIR OPINION for fear of impacting their current employment…even more proof that a SECRET ballot tallied by a neutral agency is needed

Without a defined, structured, transparent and identity protected process to fairly and accurately provide information and measure SDUSD  Stakeholder Community response to key issues (as outlined in the District Deeds “Give Us The Vote” series of articles) the SDUSD Board of Education will continue to make decisions counter to the needs and desires of the SDUSD Stakeholder Community.

This lack of a defined, calibrated and accurate SDUSD Stakeholder feedback mechanism is grounds for eliminating the change to pre-Labor Day for 2016/17 and beyond…or until that defined, calibrated and accurate mechanism is in place.

To Summarize-

Using anecdotal feedback produced by a flawed information distribution system with inaccurate and incomplete data without ANY financial impact oversight is a compelling reason to scrap the plan for SDUSD pre-Labor Day School Start Dates IMMEDIATELY.

A progressive and responsive Board of Education and Superintendent would start immediately to remedy the flawed process and institute a well-defined process, protocol and technical voting/feedback system that ACCURATELY and FAIRLY distributes initiative information and gathers SDUSD Stakeholder needs and desires.

IF that framework is created and implemented, revisiting of the Calendar Change to pre-Labor Day can be accommodated fairly…but no efforts to change it should occur before the SDUSD Stakeholders have the assurance of accuracy, consistency and anonymity.

Let’s see what current Board of Education Trustees Richard Barrera, Marne Foster,  John Lee Evans, Kevin Beiser and Michael McQuary along with Superintendent Cindy Marten decide to do to make the information, collaboration and feedback process accurate and REAL.

We will keep you updated!  

P.S.:  As the article outlines, giving ALL SDUSD Stakeholders the opportunity to choose the Calendar Changes directly is key to having our voices heard in a democratic society.

Sign the SDUSD Stakeholder petition to GIVE US THE VOTE here: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/GIVEUSTHEVOTE

Sign it today!