Updated: Heard In Natomas


Some parents and teachers are none too pleased with the Natomas Unified School District’s 2009-10 calendar for modified “traditional” schools.

The calendar, approved by the school board at its April 8 meeting trims one week from Spring Break in favor of a longer summer recess; the calendar still shows a three week winter break.

According to the district website, the Natomas Teachers Association and school district agreed on the calendar prior to its approval.


  1. Anonymous says

    Just one more thing the school board got wrong.
    Add it to the list.

  2. OK… So “some parents and teachers” are not pleased.

    What are the pros and cons?

    What is the district’s reason for the change?

    Where is this “draft calendar”? I can’t find it on NUSD’s Web site.

    It seems there is an assumption that it is “wrong” but there’s no argument as to why it is wrong. Likewise, there is no argument in favor of the change.

    Can someone try to get the actual lowdown on this?

  3. Anonymous says

    Go for it, Keith.

  4. Not sure what the district’s goal is but long summer breaks have shown in studies to decrease test scores overall and increase achievement gap between higher and lower income students. Here’s a news article about one


    Seems like a step backwards…

  5. Interesting…you’re talking about the modified traditional calendar, right? Maybe concerned parents should send an email to the School Board and let them know why they should or shouldn’t keep the 2 week break. I personally love it but know that some parents are not as fond of it. But an extra week in the summer wouldn’t be so bad either…

  6. Some parents find the 2 week Spring Break annoying. Isn’t there an old saying, “You can’t please all the people all the time?” BAS

  7. Why not cut winter break back to the two weeks it previously was. three weeks is too long.

  8. Elaine0630 says

    The final, board approved version of the calendar is now on the district’s website.

  9. This blog entry has been updated with the actual calendar now, along with some additional information. (Good stuff.)

    And the comments above are helpful. I especially appreciated the “Summer break increases achievement gap” article from the Baltimore Examiner.

    However, the article does not mention the length of the summer break being a factor. It does, however, express that it is the experiences kids have over the summer, and specifically that a “more enriching family environment over the school break — if newspapers and magazines are around the house, if the parents are college-educated, if children are taken to the library and museums, if they’re in organized sports, for example — makes a quantifiable difference in academic achievement.”

    Based on the article cited above, it is not the quantity of days or weeks of the summer break, but rather, the quality of that time.

    Perhaps there are other sources that support or reject links between the length of the summer break and academic achievement — but that article appears not to be one of them.

    Anyone else have thoughts on this? Is this really a concern, and if so, why? Or is it a pretty even split between those who like it and those who dislike it for reasons personal to them?

  10. Actually… I missed this line at the bottom of the article, which suggests it may be beneficial to “begin to consider breaking up the school year or having year-round schooling.” That does hint at the length of the break maybe being a factor… But would one week make a difference?

  11. Anonymous says

    Why would we want three weeks off in the dead of winter, with nothing to do and lousy weather? We really enjoy the two week spring break, and would like the additional week of summer taken away from winter. We also enjoyed the break in October we had the first year Heron opened. What I would really appreciate it is a calendar that doesn’t change every year. Consistency would be nice.

  12. Keith-
    There are literally hundreds of studies relating to loss of achievement over the summer. There are others that demonstrate the benefits of year-round schooling as a way to stop this loss of achievement. For more info try http://eric.ed.gov/ . My point wasn’t that a week made a huge difference, but that it seems to show the district is unaware that the data shows a need for a shorter summer to increase achievement. It’s logical to assume that if certain children are not having an enriching summer, one more week can only make things worse.

  13. Thanks for sharing the link to the Education Resources Information Center (ERIC) — great site!

    I just sifted through over a hundred abstracts of papers — indeed, many referenced the achievement gaps among varying socioeconomic groups, but they all seemed to point to the need for summer programs, camps, etc. Again, it’s the quality of the time, not necessarily the amount of the time.

    But I do tend to agree that extending the summer break might be going in the wrong direction — the degree to which it is arguably wrong probably depends mostly on what families do with the time.

    Thanks again for furthering the discussion. I learned a few things and hopefully others have as well.

  14. Anonymous says

    To the person who asked that we send a letter as concerned parents I like that idea but people I know did ask school board members not to make the change but they didn’t listen. Plus “Sac” is so right about the studies long summers are not good for kids retention (sorry Keith) that is fact.

    The problem is that NUSD never listens to the families. This seems to be a familiar process in Natomas.

    Land deals and school venue changes and all kinds of stuff that never gets communicated with the people who live here.

    I know people say go to the meetings but I have a job and two kids and can’t go to everything. Seems like they could come to us and the only person I ever see out and about is Bruce Roberts (I think that is his name, the tall guy). I don’t think the others even have kids in the district.

    I agree with Trixie. They probably don’t know what its like to have kids with inconsistant scheduling, really tough.

    Anyway, thanks Buzz for letting us vent.

    Concerned Mom

  15. Anonymous says

    I think the difficulty is that for some families at modified traditional schools, this is fourth year in a row with a completely different vacation schedule; makes it hard to plan — academically, vacation, etc.

  16. I should probably weigh in at this time.
    Cons: Another calendar change for Natomas.
    Calendar settled early catches some off guard.
    Calendar tentatively settled before the rest of an already overdue teachers’ contract.
    Pros: Calendar settled early enough for everyone to plan for next year.
    Tough budget times mean the need for solutions such as saving A/C in summer months. Other districts have considered cutting summer school, furlough days, and reducing other school services. The impact in Natomas has so far been mild in comparison.
    NTA negotiates as a collective using input from members, and a majority of us are from traditional schedules (out of 13 schools, 3 are year-round), thus the preference. One can find articles to support both sides of the calendar issue. Calendar is clearly an important issue for many people, and I appreciate the discussion both dissent and agreement.
    Finally, I would like to encourage everyone to help support schools, and avoid more budget cuts and education funding uncertainty by voting YES on the initiatives 1A through 1F on May 19th.

  17. Anonymous says

    So really the only reason this calendar is a “modified traditional schedule” is because there is an extra week at the winter break. Sounds more traditional to me.

  18. Without a neighborhood blog this conversation wouldn’t exist.
    Where are the elected officials who should care what the people think?
    Do a poll of the parents at the schools and in the PTAs. They don’t care what we think.
    Annonymous is right about being frustrated and the other annonymous and Trixie are right about too. This is why everyone likes the Charter school so much. It makes me feel like putting my kids in the charter schools too.

  19. Check it out on this same web page NUSD cares what you guys think about apple juice…. Just not education!!!!
    Glad I don’t have kids in this school district.

  20. Anonymous says

    But the Charter schools don’t survey parents for the calendar either. I don’t get why they are so great because of this issue. Huh?

  21. Anonymous says

    I like the longer winter and spring break vacations. This way we can travel around the traditional crunch times .. avoiding the crowds *and* at cheaper rates.
    Our kids also have a few extra days to recover, before heading back to school.
    I e-mailed them.. and several school board members responded that this was a decision by the teachers association. Their rep has NOT messaged back. What was the thought behind the move???

  22. Anonymous says

    When different schools are on different calendars the district loses ada money. I am sure most families try to take time off when most of their kids are off school, but sometimes it just isn’t possible. For instance, I have 4 kids at 3 different schools with 3 different calendars. If we want to go out of town at a different time of year (not summer or Christmas) usually at least one of our kids will have to miss a day or two. That means their school loses that ada money. I am not surprised they are making the calendars more alike.

  23. I think that person (one of the annonymous people) was saying the charter is more consistent and doesn’t have to deal with trustees. That is true, my neighbor loves it.


  24. Anonymous says

    I would greatly hope that the school board does not put the “blame” for discontent with this calendar on the Teacher’s Association. As a teacher, we have no direct input on this issue. In fact, most of us are more than a little bothered by this “modified” calendar that’s only really modified at Winter break.

    The original “modified” calendar gave a break in October which corresponded to the October break that the Charters take, thus giving those of us with kids at one of the Charters a vacation together. That was taken away this year, and is not in next year’s calendar. 3 weeks at Winter is nice, but I’d rather have one of those weeks breaking up an incredibly long fall, where we go 15 weeks with only 2 single day holidays.

  25. Anonymous says

    My teacher friend said the same thing about the board blaming the teachers for the change, so they didn’t listen to the teachers or the parents.

  26. Anonymous says

    I don’t think anyone was blaming the teachers, they were blaming NTA. The NTA’s own comment here is in favor of the calendar and stated so.

  27. Anonymous says

    I think people just like to complain…get over it and embrace it!

  28. I wrote in and received this response from the NTA President. It might explain a few things. However, after reading her response, I do fear we can eventually kiss our “modified traditional” schedule goodbye… read on…

    –“School breaks are not designed to consider vacations, rather they are designed to offer interventions for students, so the longer summer break allows the district to offer summer school more easily. The district was not offering intervention during spring break so it was not needed to be 2 weeks. (Originally the district wanted the two weeks to offer a program, but they did not.)
    We represent by using the majority opinion of our 600 members, and a majority of us are from traditional calendars (out of 13 schools, we have only 3 on year-round). Individuals or small groups express their opinion, but we make decisions as a collective. There will always be unhappy folks whether we finalize a calendar early or later.
    We are aware that this is an important issue for all. The NTA and district agreed to a compromise that worked for both parties. Contracts and changes should be expected each year as the state budget and district budget and programs are constantly adapting to the times. Hope this helps answer your questions.”

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