Los Lunas — After receiving more than 2,000 survey responses and a small heap of parent criticism over the potential 2022-23 school calendars, the Los Lunas School district is again looking to the community for feedback on two more proposed calendars.
Both of the proposed calendars include 190 learning days for students and 196 work days for teachers. The two include five work days with no students and one work day with no students or meetings. The calendars honor federal holidays, and allow for eight weeks of summer break between June and July.
“My point of view is to be able to give every student every opportunity possible,” Los Lunas Superintendent Arsenio Romero said. “What we are doing now, is we want to make sure we are doing what we say we are doing … We want to be able to maximize the time that we have.”
The main difference between the calendars are where all-learner days fall during the course of the school year, with one option having one every last Wednesday of the month, and the other with these days attached to select holidays once a month.
All-learner days require students to work on projects from home, “using technology to take learning outside the walls of school buildings and bells,” according to the district’s website. Both proposed calendars include these days for all grade levels.
Romero said the idea for all-learning days came to him from teachers in the district to allow them to have professional development without losing a learning day for students.
“We have a couple of challenges — one is we have to figure out a way to provide more time for teachers with professional development, and the other is to make sure we have wonderful instructional days no matter what,” Romero said. “We’ve learned a lot over the past couple of years when it comes to technology, how it’s improved and outcomes for students and we are continually getting better at it.”
When asked about the learning effectiveness of these work-from-home days for students who may have to complete their project from a day care or for parents who have a difficult time finding childcare, Romero said every parent in the district cannot be pleased.
“We know that if we are going to try to come up with something that meets everyone’s needs, there’s not a way to do that,” Romero said. “I’ve had just as many people asking about half-day Wednesdays … all of these things affect families in different ways and none of them are going to be something that meets everyone’s needs.”
The superintendent said the district is working with childcare centers in the community to create systems that allow for student success, as well as working with students who face challenges at home, which could result in difficulty completing their year-long projects.
In February, the district reached out to parents, teachers and other community stakeholders for feedback on two different calendar options, one with an extended, eight-week summer break, and another with more frequent breaks throughout the school year, mirroring a year-long schedule.
After garnering more than 2,000 responses, the calendar committee opted to move away from a schedule including more breaks since respondents favored a longer summer break.
With both calendar options, the district will increase student learning days from 186 to 190 to be in compliance with the Extended Learning Time program (ELTP), which the district has been a part of since before Romero’s tenure.
Last year, the Los Lunas Board of Education approved a different increase to the number of days in the classroom, as mandated by the ELTP, which required 10 more learning days than the 2019-20 school year.
A petition is circulating among Los Lunas Schools’ parents opposing the Extended Learning Time program and the increase to a 190-day calendar, citing lack of parental input and no option to return to a 180-day calendar in the two surveys sent out by the district this year.
As of Tuesday, the petition is 23 signatures shy of their 500 signature goal.
A community survey hosted by Los Lunas Schools allows for all community members to provide input on the 2022-23 district calendar until Saturday, March 12. The Los Lunas Board of Education is expected to vote on a calendar during its March 22 meeting.
Makayla Grijalva was born and raised in Las Cruces. She is a 2020 graduate of The University of New Mexico, where she studied multimedia journalism, political science and history. She covers the village of Los Lunas, Los Lunas Schools, SODA and the town of Peralta.