Dear Baldwin-Whitehall Educational Community:
It is that time of year to be thinking about the school calendar for the 2020-2021 school year. Parents and staff members are eager to learn when the first and last days of school will be scheduled along, with many other important events throughout the year.
A significant amount of time and thought goes into the planning of the school dates. For this year, I wanted to give everyone some of the rationale as to why we are recommending the proposed calendar.
Change/Event and Rationale
Basic Calendar Structure - The school calendar is built to contain a minimum of 180 days of instruction for students along with a required 192 of work for teachers. The balance of days above the student year are used for professional development and clerical time for instructional staff as required by the collective bargaining agreement. Those days are systematically scheduled throughout the school year to provide timely breaks for students as well as to meet instructional goals within the schools.
Later Start and End Date - As part of the ongoing capital improvements happening within many of our buildings, we will be starting the process of rebuilding Paynter Elementary School this year. Over the summer we will be creating additional classrooms within the Harrison building to accommodate the K-5 students as well as the 6th grade students that will occupy that school for the next several years. In addition, we will be moving a significant amount of furniture and materials between buildings. We will need time this summer to accomplish that work. The 2019-20 school year is ending a week later than normal as well, only contributing to what could have been a short 2020 summer.
Early Dismissal Days - The calendar includes several days in which an early dismissal is scheduled. Those days includes clerical time for teachers, parent teacher conferences, professional development, or simply trying to give the students an early release prior to a holiday break. We realize that early dismissal are not optimum due to disruptions to household schedules. We have worked to reduce the number of these days throughout the calendar, only using them when and where necessary. We have also tried to place the early dismissal days (when not tied to a holiday break) on Fridays to allow for extended weekends for students.
Days off in the middle of the week - Over the years, we have received many questions as to why our District schedules days off for students during the week instead of having those types of things on a Monday or a Friday. In many cases, we do try to schedule days off for students (and for staff) to allow for an extended weekend. The exception to that rule occurs in November and May due to the primary and general elections. Several of our school buildings are used by Allegheny County as polling places. Our Board of School Directors has enacted a policy that prevents school from occurring on those days for the assurance of student safety.
Use of Presidents' Day as a snow make up day - Presidents' Day is not used as a snow make up day because it is designated as a holiday in several of the collective bargaining unit agreements that exist with the employees. If we would schedule school that day, it would require the payment of additional wages, or in some cases, create difficulties in securing enough workers to safely conduct school. The District would consider using Presidents' Day in emergency situations if necessary.
Monday after Easter Many parents have asked us to consider having the Monday after Easter as a day of no school for students in exchange for having a longer period of time off prior to the holiday weekend. Many families travel, or have guests in their homes on Sunday of that weekend, making school on Monday more challenging. For the District, it normally works out well as we are able to hold professional development sessions with staff during that time.
If you would like to provide feedback on the proposed calendar, please follow this link:
Please respond no later than Monday, February 3, 2020. Your opinion counts and will be considered.
Randal Lutz, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools