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San Dieguito district revises 2015-16 instructional calendar

The San Dieguito Union High School District board was able to change its instructional calendar at its July 16 meeting, ending the 2015-16 school year on the traditional Friday rather than a Thursday.

The change was prompted in part by parent Marielle Bravo-Saltzman, a three-year member of the Grad Nite committee at Canyon Crest Academy, who started an online petition on change.org in favor of changing the district calendar.

The Grad Nite party at all district high schools provides a safe, alcohol and drug-free environment for students to celebrate graduation with friends, starting at 10 p.m. and ending at 5 a.m. the next morning. Bravo-Saltzman said the biggest repercussion of having school end on a Thursday would be in schools’ ability to get the more than 100 volunteers necessary to put on the party, as many parents would not be able to volunteer because of work schedules.

“A Friday graduation (party) makes it easier for families to celebrate this important milestone,” said parent Jennifer McDowell.

The change was also possible as there have been significant changes to the district’s funding model since the calendar was approved in 2014.

Jason Viloria, associate superintendent of administrative services, said beginning in the 2015-16 school year, the district will transition from a Basic Aid district to the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) funding model, which relies on daily student attendance for revenue.

Viloria said at the request of trustee Joyce Dalessandro, the district reviewed the adopted school calendar to identify potential high-absence days to be used as a strategic non-student day.

Dalessandro said Jewish leaders had already approached the district expressing concern that so many students had to miss a day of school because of Rosh Hashana. The high absence day for the September Jewish holy days would result in a loss of $130,000 in revenue under the LCFF.

Superintendent Rick Schmitt said it is illegal to schedule a non-student day for religious reasons, but after the funding model flipped, the day in September made sense because it is one of the highest absentee days in the district.

The board voted to schedule the non-student day on Sept. 14, 2015, and moved the last day of school to Friday, June 10, 2016.

Find the revised calendar on the district website: www.sduhsd.net/about-sduhsd/district-calendar/index.html.