Dear Kentfield Families and Staff,
In 2008, our School Board developed and adopted a policy regarding the observance of religious holidays in our district noting that, “We are a public school district that is fundamentally secular in nature. We [nevertheless] have an obligation and opportunity to accommodate and celebrate the diversity of our students and families.”
The policy articulated practices for teachers to avoid on religious holidays: assigning homework, giving tests, scheduling significant or one-time events, and more. In addition, absence from school for religious observance is an excused absence. Work missed that day may be made up but doesn’t have to be. While most students were excused from homework and tests exactly as the policy envisioned, others, despite reminders and for a variety of reasons, were not. For this, the district is very sorry.
The policy also directed the district to disseminate a calendar of religious holidays for the upcoming year by each May 1, a practice which has lapsed, but which is being revived.
Many have asked why neither Rosh Hashanah nor Yom Kippur was a local recess from school as they have been in the recent past. The fact that the district did not take these days off this year was the outcome of the annual collaborative calendaring process agreed to in the Collective Bargaining Agreement with our teachers.
The process starts with a joint meeting of the union and district in October or early November at which typically two calendar options are created. These options are put to the vote by the union and the preferred calendar is presented to the School Board for approval. This past winter, when the Board was considering the option that we now have, the one with the Jewish holidays not being observed, Board president Juli Kauffman reiterated the directives around homework and tests and stated that she would only vote for the calendar if adherence was assured. Other Trustees concurred and voted for the 2018-19 District calendar we have.
Many aspects of the calendar have changed while we are under construction. We are bound to our 180-day school year while simultaneously giving the contractors as much time as possible to get work done during the summer. In my six years here, this is the first year we have not recessed for at least one of the Jewish holidays in the Fall.
We have our annual calendar meeting in six weeks to begin the development of the 2019-20 calendar. This year’s experience will certainly be front and center in the discussion.
We are committed to getting this right. I will be updating the Board on this policy during my report at our October 9 School Board Meeting.The agenda will be linked to next week’s newsletter showing the approximate time Superintendent and staff reports are slated. This is when public comment will be taken on this topic.
I look forward to seeing you there.
Next Meeting: October 9, 2018 at 5 p.m. in the District Office.
- The Agenda will be posted by 5 p.m. the Friday before the meeting.
Bacich Construction Update
We have received questions about the lack of activity on our building pad at Bacich in recent weeks. Design specifications regarding the building slab needed clarification and caused the delay. We are back underway now and anticipate no change to our move-in date next summer. For more information about construction at Bacich, please visit our FAQ page.
Parent Partners Meeting
- Tuesday, October 2, 2018, 9 am, District Office
Parent Partners is a group for parents of students with learning differences.
The group meets three times per year with the primary goals of providing parent perspective and feedback to the school districts, supporting children with exceptional needs by increasing knowledge and acceptance of learning differences in the community, and supporting other parents of students with exceptional needs.
- To get to the right site, please replace your old bookmarks with: www.kentfieldschools.org | bacich.kentfieldschools.org | kent.kentfieldschools.org
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