Rancho Santa Fe School board to consider possible parent survey

By Karen Billing

Rancho Santa Fe School District students attend school by four to 92 minutes longer than the required instructional minutes, district Superintendent Lindy Delaney reported at the Jan. 12 school board meeting. Delaney’s report was in response to an inquiry by trustee Todd Frank who, in December, questioned whether it would be possible to change the school start time to 9:15 a.m., rather than 8 a.m.

Kindergarten and first-grade students have the most excess daily minutes: Kindergartners have 92 more minutes than required daily and first graders are over by 36 minutes daily.

Kindergartners and first-graders at R. Roger Rowe have a longer day by the district’s choice.

“I think it’s a good choice for us,” Delaney said.

Second through sixth grades are closer to the annual required minutes, just 10 minutes over. Middle school is over by 4 minutes.

Delaney said schools are required by a state education code to have 180 days of instruction; teachers have 184 days in their contracts. Within those days are required minutes: Kindergarten is required to have 37,105 minutes a year; first grade 50, 680; second through sixth grades are required 60,635 minutes; and middle school is required to have 62,245 minutes.

Due to funding concerns, the code would allow for 175 days a year and possibly down to 165.

Regardless of any changes to the code, Delaney said she is very committed to keeping 180 days of school.

Five years ago, a request was made for an early release day for staff development. Delaney said she does not like early release so they came up with the current schedule for late-start Mondays for staff development.

“For me, how we’re doing it now is working,” Delaney said.

The trustees were not yet sure on changing the start time, not even Frank who said he wanted to digest the information from Delaney’s report. He said he was not in support of cutting days if it meant cutting education.

Board President Jim Depolo said to start later would likely mean having to go later or forgo staff development.

“I don’t think the day should go any longer,” trustee Tyler Seltzer said.

Trustee Marti Ritto said she heard some feedback from parents on both sides.

“Many of them were not happy with the idea of changing it,” Ritto said.

Frank said that instead of anecdotes, he’d rather see a survey done to gauge parents’ opinions on the matter and possibly other issues. A discussion on a parent survey will be placed on the agenda for next month’s board meeting.

Frank later abstained from voting on the consent calendar, which included the 2011-12 school calendar.