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At Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Las Cruces Public Schools Board of Directors, a unanimous vote declined to extend the instructional calendar for the 2021-2022 school year.
Options to extend the calendar were presented by Dr. Wendi Miller-Tomlinson, Deputy Superintendent of Teaching, Learning, Leadership and Research.
Option A would have returned students to school on Aug. 5, 2021, adding 10 extra instructional days. It would have also added 30 minutes to the school day for elementary students, providing the equivalent of 25 instructional days without extending the calendar further.
Option B would have extended the school year by 25 days.
Option C was a choice to not make any changes to the calendar. The 2021-2022 school year will begin on Aug. 9 and end on May 25.
Miller-Tomlinson advised the board that public input was solicited via email and through in-person comments to the board as advertised in the legal notice posted Friday, April 16. Three people – two teachers and a parent – provided public input in person. Teachers advocated for no change while the parent supported extending the school year.
According to district officials, more than 230 people sent feedback to the district via email. Option A had the approval of 61 respondents and 25 respondents liked Option B. Some asked that no change to the calendar be made, and other feedback suggested the district consider a year-round calendar. Some responses didn’t indicate a preference for either option. The majority of emailed input asked that the district keep the current calendar with no extension.
Respondents included 73 teachers, 126 parents and 13 people who said they were both teachers and parents. The remainder identified themselves as members of the community.
Miller-Tomlinson said a common recommendation among parents who provided feedback suggested the district focus on enrichment or providing opportunities for students who need additional academic support.
“This year has been anything but normal,” said Miller-Tomlinson. “Instead of addressing it as learning loss, it’s more accurately incomplete teaching and learning, which is not uncommon at the end of a school year.”
Board members expressed concern over burdening teachers, students and parents with extending an already difficult school year. Most relayed feedback from constituents who also advocated for no extension to the existing calendar.
Also on Tuesday night’s agenda, recommendations for the district’s superintendent search were approved. A committee of classified employees, parents, teachers and administrators provided feedback on the qualities the district should include in the superintendent’s job description. It was also voted to advertise the position with a starting annual salary range of $150,000 to $200,000. The district will begin work to post the position and accept applications through May 5. Initial interviews with qualified candidates will be held with the board beginning May 17, and finalists will be announced at the May 24 regular board meeting. The final selection will be announced and brought to a vote at the June 1 regular board meeting.