LOS LUNAS —  After about a month of deliberation, members of the Los Lunas Schools calendar study team recommended a 2023-24 student calendar to the Los Lunas Board of Education Tuesday, March 21, which was approved by all members.

Justin Talley, a parent on the calendar study team, said it was the best option given the constraints.

“I think you’ll see that with the calendar nobody got exactly what they wanted,” Talley said. “Everybody had to give and take a little bit but, in the end, I think we got a calendar that meets the requirements and will meet the needs of the teachers and students.”

The calendar study team was composed of 14 members who were facilitated by Dr. Deborah Elder, interim superintendent and chief academic officer of curriculum, assessment and innovation for Los Lunas Schools.

The team contained six employees who are parents of LLS students, three teachers, four site administrators, five NEA (union) members, two central office employees, one parent who is not an employee and four other employees (custodian, counselor, educational assistant and substitute).

After the calendar study team’s presentation, all members of the board voted to approve the calendar option two, which was the favored option of the two calendars presented and voted on by the public.

The National Educator’s Association Los Lunas, the teacher’s union, voted in support of presenting two options created by the team to the public. Voting through Google Forms was open March 10-17 and was communicated through the Remind app, social media and the LLS website.

Option two (red) received the majority of the votes over option one (blue). Image courtesy of Los Lunas Schools.

A total of 1,762 votes were received with 59.7 percent voting for option two and 40.3 percent voting for option one.

One of the biggest constraints the calendar study team encountered was how to implement new House Bill 130, which took effect March 18. HB 130 made it a requirement across the state to have 1,140 hours of instructional time.

Adding additional hours required by HB 130 would mean implementing a 190-day schedule if they were to keep the current school day lasting six hours.

“I don’t think there was anybody on the committee who was a proponent of going to 190 days, so in order to keep 187 days you have to extend the day by a few minutes for different levels of education to meet that 1,140 hours,” Talley said.

It’s also vital to have all-learner days throughout the year to maintain a 187 day school year, Talley said. All-learner days are school days when students work from home on all-year projects and teachers have professional development days.

“Through the union, there is a negotiated number of days teachers can work, so you have to fit all those professional development hours in so you either have to extend to 190 days or do the all-learner days,” he said. “So the (all-learner days) are an ideal way to get the time in for professional development and instructional time without extending to 190 days.”

Talley said he didn’t realize going in as a community member and parent there would be so many external constraints the team would have to juggle.

“These (constraints) are not something the administration has any control over; that’s something that comes from the state Legislature,” he said. “If you want that changed, that’s something you have to petition with the state. So those are the constraints and that’s how we came up with the calendar we have.”

For spring break, the 2023-24 calendar will align with the University of New Mexico’s break. Talley said many people seem to agree this might be best because there are a lot of students taking dual credit courses at the UNM-Valencia campus.

“If they don’t have those spring breaks aligned then they don’t really get spring break,” he said.

Following the presentation, board president Tina Garcia and board member Eloy Giron commended the calendar study team for their diverse array of members who represent a wide variety of geography, role groups and school levels.

“I can imagine the back and forth, but you guys brought us an option in a timely fashion and worked together,” Giron said. “I’m proud to say I live in a community where we can do that.”

“From the research I’ve done, we’ve had to make very little changes to our calendar compared to what many school districts are having to do,” Garcia said. “I don’t even know if many of them can get to a vote a week after the legislative session closes, so again I’m very proud of our district and very proud of this committee.”

Features of 2023-24 LLS student calendar:

  • 187 student learning days
  • Nine weeks of summer vacation
  • No school in June or July
  • Fall break on Indigenous Peoples’ Day
  • Full week off for Thanksgiving
  • Four-day weekend for Easter
  • Six embedded all-learners days
  • School ends before Memorial Day
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Felina Martinez was born and raised in Valencia County. She graduated from the University of New Mexico in 2021. During her time at UNM, she studied interdisciplinary film, digital media and journalism. She covers the village of Los Lunas, Los Lunas Schools, the School of Dreams Academy and the town of Peralta.