LOS LUNAS — The decision to select a 2024-25 Los Lunas Schools calendar was met with mixed feelings at the Dec. 19 board of education meeting.  

The board was presented with two calendar options at the meeting and a recommendation for one by the LLS calendar committee. The committee was made up of 20 individuals from various LLS campuses and departments to bring a diverse perspective. Two community members were also included.  

Justin Talley, a newly-elected LLS board member who also served on the calendar committee, addressed the previous board through public comment at the meeting prior to the discussion of the calendar.  

“It seems like the summers are getting shorter and shorter for students and parents,” said Talley. “I would like if you could consider tabling the vote and allow the new board to take that up and perhaps have a new committee. Another committee might come up with the exact calendar, but perhaps with different parameters they could come up with a better calendar that fits the communities, students and teachers needs.”  

Survey data collected by LLS through their 24-25 calendar survey. Image courtesy of Los Lunas Schools.

Both calendar options included an Aug. 1 start date, a spring break that aligns with the University of New Mexico-Valencia campus and professional development days that were moved from Wednesdays to Mondays.  

All-learner days, which are school days when students work from home on all-year projects and teachers have professional development days, are also gone.  

Jessica Montano, LLS interim chief academic officer who served on the calendar committee, said the state now requires all-learner days to be replaced with ten required professional development days for teachers. She said the state requires professional development days to be embedded throughout the school year and students would have the day off on these days.  

In addition to adhering to 1,140 hours of instruction time, a new state law also requires public schools to have election day off, so that also had to be incorporated in the 24-25 calendar.  

Key features of option A include four professional development days in July and two at the beginning of January before students start. This calendar also has students and teachers end the semester before Memorial Day. Option B has more professional days taking place during the semester, so students and teachers finish the Friday after Memorial Day, but they have a longer fall break and full week off for Thanksgiving.  

A total of 1,592 people voted between option A and B in a community survey LLS created with 50% of the total respondents being parents. The survey, open from Dec. 1-11, was shared on the LLS website, social media and the Remind app.  

According to the survey, Option B was the most preferred with 54.5% of the votes while option A had 45.5% of the votes. Based on this, Montano said the calendar committee recommended option B for approval.  

Former board member Bryan Smith thanked the committee for their hard work but said the calendar is a huge decision, so he would like the new board to address the matter. 

LLS Chief Student Services Officer Susan Chavez said that delaying the decision impacts everyone’s ability to plan for the coming school year.  

Image courtesy of Los Lunas Schools.

“We have many staff members who are anxious to start deciding what they’re going to do for the summer,” said Susan Chavez. “We also would like to provide the calendar to the community as soon as possible because families are starting to plan for summer vacations and the first thing they look at is the calendar.” 

National Educator’s Association president Mary Ann Chavez, representing the union, added that a delayed decision will also hold them back on when they can start collective bargaining which is supposed to take place in early February. 

LLS superintendent Ryan Kettler was not able to attend the meeting, but former board president Tina Garcia said she asked Kettler previously if he was willing to make a recommendation.  

“He said he’s recommending what the (calendar) committee recommends as they have done their due diligence,” said Garcia.  

Board member Bruce Bennett made a motion to accept the recommended option B which Garcia seconded. The vote failed as Bennett and Garcia voted yes, while Eloy Giron, David Vickers and Smith voted no.  

“I respect Dr. Kettler’s recommendation and really want to support you all on this, but I hate to vote yes because I’m not going to be here in a couple weeks to answer questions from the community,” said Giron.  

Vickers then made a motion to accept option A, which features the same 181 student learning days as the current calendar. The motion passed on a 3 to 2 vote with Giron and Smith voting no, and Vickers, Bennett and Garcia voting yes.  

Vickers said in a phone interview he voted for option A because having school go beyond Memorial Day, in option B, was a deal breaker. 

Bennett said he switched his vote to option A because it would not be fair for the calendar committee to put in all the work they did and not accept an option.  

“The calendar committee spent all this time to present us with the two choices,” said Bennett in a phone call. “Yes, I would have preferred if we’d gone with B, but it seemed like more of the board wanted A, so I went with A because I think either one was a good choice.” 

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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.