The Perkiomen Valley School Board approved a 2013-14 calendar that changes dates of conferences, the Act 80 Day and graduation projects, and includes a post-Labor Day start date, due in part to teacher contract negotiations.
Students will attend school for 1.5 days during the week of Labor Day; Sept. 3 will be an in-service day for faculty and staff, and Sept. 4 will be a half day for students. Schools will be closed Sept. 5 for Rosh Hashana and Sept. 6, a Friday, will be the first full day for students. The last day of school will be June 17.
Parent-teacher conferences have been moved to Nov. 4 and 5 in the 2013-2014 calendar, as opposed to being held directly prior to the Thanksgiving holiday, as it is this year.
Since conferences will fall on Nov. 5, General Election Day, the Act 80 Day that is normally reserved for the General Election will be used on Primary Election Day, May 20.
The date for Graduation Projects is moved to April 16, the day before Spring Break, which is earlier than the 2012-2013 calendar.
PVSD Assistant Superintendent Barbara Russell said that the changes to conferences, Act. 80 Day and graduations projects reflect the opinion of the PVSD Calendar Committee.
Russell said that the committee was split on a post-labor day start date.
PVSD School Board President Lori Snyder addressed the Sept. 4 start date, and stated that it related to contract negotiation with the Perkiomen Valley Education Association, the teacher’s union.
Snyder said that this start date was a departure from recent efforts to begin school prior to Labor Day, which was based on community feedback and the board's “own desire to ensure that students receive more days of school prior to high-stakes testing that occurs in the spring.”
Snyder said that any start date prior to Aug. 31 requires that the district pay a salary increase for many teachers, regardless of the outcome of this year's contract negotiations with the teacher's union.
“Due to a court decision, if the teachers start the new school year before the expiration of a contract, even if there is not a new contract, we must pay the salary increase towards the next years’ step,” Snyder said. “That is where the issue becomes complex for us.”
If the board approved a pre-Labor Day start, the district would then be committed to a $750,000 salary increase for the 2013-2014 school year.
Snyder said that it is a "fiscally irresponsible" decision, given the district's current $5 million shortfall.
“Hopefully this will be a non-issue,” Snyder said, with hopes that an agreement can be reached on contracts prior to the start of the 2013-2014 school year. “However, at this point, we don’t know.”
Snyder said that the PVEA did not agree to sign a memorandum of understanding in which the union would agree to forego the salary schedule movement in exchange for the removal of one required professional development day from the teacher’s calendar in the first year of the contract.
“This would allow us to being the school year prior to Sept. 1 without making a financial commitment that can’t be undone,” Snyder said.
As a result, the teachers will not receive the salary bump if the contract is not agreed on by the start of school.
“If the new contract is not in place [by the Sept. 3 start date], teachers will resume this school year under status quo, which means the teachers will not move on the salary schedule,” Snyder said.