The Palo Alto school district has named some 20 parents, teachers, administrators and students to a committee to evaluate reforms to the school district's academic calendar that took effect this year.
The committee will hold its first meeting, open to the public, Wednesday, Nov. 28, at 4 p.m. in Conference Room A of school district headquarters, 25 Churchill Ave.
The group will help survey students, parents and teachers about their satisfaction with the reforms and offer suggestions on whether the changes should be retained in future calendars, beginning in 2014-15.
The calendar reform -- which moves the school start date to mid-August so as to squeeze in the first semester before the December holidays -- was adopted in an emotional 3-2 school board vote in 2011. It applies to the current school year as well as to the 2013-14 year.
Supporters advocated the change as a way to give students -- particularly high-school students -- a work-free winter break, as most other public and private high schools in the area already have done with little controversy.
Opponents argued that the new calendar intrudes on traditional family time in August and creates the added stress of high-school finals in the crowded pre-holiday period.
The newly appointed advisory committee, whose members represent a wide range of views, will help design surveys of students, parents and staff about their satisfaction with the new calendar. The group will offer advice to a separate "calendar committee," comprised of employee union representatives and district administrators, which will negotiate a final recommendation for the school board.
Board action on the calendar covering the two or three years after 2013-14 is anticipated in November 2013.
Assistant Superintendent Scott Bowers said he heard from about 49 parents who expressed interest in helping on the committee.
Appointed members are elementary parents Amy Kacher, Stuart Friedman, Lance Martin and Kathy Jordan; middle-school and/or high-school parents Susan Usman, Howard Lee, Mukund Sreenivasan and Tekla Nee; Gunn teacher Laurie Pennington; Walter Hays teachers Abby Bradski and Michelle Ketcham; Palo Alto High School teacher Debbie Whitson; Gunn Assistant Principal Trinity Klein; Jordan Middle School Principal Greg Barnes; Gunn students Justice Tention, Sarah Dukes-Schlossberg and Paly student Jessica Feinberg. Gunn student Neel Guha was chosen as an alternate and Bowers was yet to name one more Paly student representative.