With summer break ending in three weeks for the Sacramento City Unified School District, a squabble over the school calendar has teachers unclear about when they are supposed to return to campus.
Sacramento City Unified students are scheduled to begin classes Sept. 6, but there is a conflict over the start date for staff. A still-tentative calendar calls for teachers to return for faculty workdays on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1, which is two days earlier than in previous years.
The revised calendar also converted some shortened school days to full days and made many of them faculty workdays without students.
The Sacramento City Teachers Association is fighting changes to the school calendar, which union leaders say is "unilaterally" being imposed upon on them.
"That action expressly violates our Memorandum of Understanding signed by our association, the district and the school board," SCTA president Scott Smith said in a statement. "As a lawyer, Superintendent (Jonathan) Raymond should value the meaning and substance of a contract."
At the elementary level, students used to have 14 shortened school days, which were used for parent-teacher conferences. There are now eight shortened days. Middle schools no longer have any shortened days. High schools, which previously had 12 shortened days for testing and record keeping, now have five.
The changes are offset by a number of faculty days.
The cumulative changes reduce instructional time by a total of four to six hours over the nine-month school year, said Mary Shelton, chief accountability officer for the Sacramento City Unified.
District officials say a faculty workday in February was well received by staff, so administrators moved to add them to the calendar. Shelton said there previously were no faculty workdays built into the calendar, which can be used for collaborative time and professional development.
Shelton said school board trustees have approved the revised calendar and the district is proceeding with it. Shelton said the district's four other bargaining units approved the revised calendar. She added that talks with SCTA are continuing.
However, those talks don't appear to be going well.
"The proposed district calendar is a purely punitive document that negatively impacts teachers and renders a tremendous disservice to parent-teacher communication," Smith's statement said. "This is the kind of policy our students, parents, and teachers must endure when you have a corporate superintendent who does not have any classroom experience."