The Ottumwa Courier

Education

July 31, 2013

Proposed calendar changes worry superintendents

(Continued)

It's that second set of requirements that raises red flags for Ottumwa's superintendent. Davis Eidahl called the proposals “a step in the wrong direction.”

“I think it's going beyond the Iowa Department of Education's authority,” he said.

Like Pedersen, Eidahl said the issue of local control is critical for school districts. The ability to set calendars that make sense for the residents isn't something the state can replicate.

Eidahl pointed to Mount Pleasant, which breaks for the Old Thresher's Reunion, as an example of why local school boards should maintain their primacy. And he thinks districts that see significant percentages of their graduates move on to postsecondary education should have some flexibility to align their calendars with those of colleges and universities.

“You get a better day of concentration in late August than in late June,” Eidahl said. “I just go back to allowing the schools and communities to have more influence with their calendars.”

Oskaloosa Superintendent Russ Rieter said some districts would benefit from steering clear of the Iowa State Fair, but not more than 10 or 15 and primarily those close to the fair site in Des Moines. He doesn't care for the state imposing a schedule on the other districts.

"I'm still just a little frustrated that they're bringing this up again, and again, and again," he said.

And Reiter believes the state is missing an element for most districts since they can't finish before Memorial Day, as he would prefer, if they start as late as the proposal mandates.

Eidahl thinks the proposed changes will pass, and when they do, he expects Ottumwa will gather the information needed to seek a waiver for an earlier start to the year.

The proposal will take effect in the 2014-15 school year if it passes.

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