On a 3-2 vote, the Belen Consolidated Schools Board of Education approved the calendar for the 2022-23 school year, which starts on Wednesday, Aug. 3.
Of the two board members voting against the calendar — board president Jim Danner and board vice president Aubrey Tucker — Danner indicated he would have liked to see the parents’ preferences given more weight.
Looking at the two final surveys sent out to parents and district staff, the parents preferred option A, while staff preferred B, Danner noted.
The main difference between the two versions was A put all of winter break in December, meaning students would return to class on Monday, Jan. 2, 2023, while option B pushed part of the break into January 2023, bringing students back on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023.
E. Renee Sanchez, BCS assistant superintendent of academics, presented the calendar information to the board at its April 12 meeting, saying the calendar committee recommended option B for the 2022-23 school year.
“I’m trying to understand why the (calendar) committee would send out a survey and get that response from parents and it not be recognized,” Danner said. “Why did the committee recommend B?”
Sanchez said after looking at the survey responses collectively, there wasn’t a significant difference between the two options.
Collectively, between both surveys, 591 people responded. Of those 40.4 percent, 239 responses, preferred option A, while 252 responses, 42.6 percent, chose option B. However, looking at just the parents survey, to which there were 358 responses, 42 percent — 150 people — wanted option A verses the 127 who chose B.
The staff survey, with 233 responses, returned 125 people, 53 percent, wanting B, and 89 people choosing option A.
The surveys did include an option C and cumulatively, 100 people chose that calendar.
Board secretary Max Cordova made a motion to approve the option B calendar, which was seconded by board member Larry Garley. Cordova, Garley and member Larry Lindberg voted in favor of option B.
Danner said he would vote against the motion, saying parents should have been more involved, which was greeted by scattered applause from members of the audience.
“If December is the only difference, I think we should go with (A),” Danner said. “I believe if parents are asked, we need to give that more weight. This is nothing against the administration. My job is to represent my constituents and in this case the constituents are being overlooked.”
The option B calendar includes early release days on Wednesdays, except for Oct. 12, 2022, and Feb. 8, 2023, Sanchez said, which will be full days due to state reporting requirements. Those two days are the 40th and 120th days of the school year, when districts are required to report their student enrollment numbers.
Enrollment numbers for the 80th day of class are also required, and that falls on Thursday, Dec. 1. The last day of classes is set for Friday, May 26, 2023.
Julia M. Dendinger began working at the VCNB in 2006. She covers Valencia County government, Belen Consolidated Schools and the village of Bosque Farms. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande chapter’s board of directors.