ami cass

Ami Cass, co-president of the Albany County Education Association, discusses the proposed calendar changes during Wednesday’s school board meeting.

The school board of Albany County School District No. 1 voted this week to change the school calendar for the 2019-2020 school year to have classes start slightly earlier in August and have graduation held a week later in May 2020.

Under the original schedule, which was approved by the board in December 2017, the Class of 2020 graduation would be held on Friday, May 22, 2020 — which board members later found out is the same weekend as state’s high school track and soccer tournaments.

“What would happen with seniors in those two events, is that they’d have to decide between walking at graduation or playing in their state sport tournament,” assistant superintendent Debbie Fisher said Wednesday. “When this happened a couple years ago, it caused a lot of problems.”

Under the revised calendar, graduation will now occur May 29, 2020. That means the 2020 class, unlike previous classes, won’t graduate a week earlier than all other students get out of school. Graduation will be held the same day classes end.

Fisher told the board that the need to change the graduation date led the district’s calendar committee to suggest a couple other changes, including building in a three-day weekend for President’s Day so that the district can disinfect its schools during peak flu season.

“It would be really good to air out those schools and deep-clean them,” Fisher said.

At the request of some teachers, the new calendar schedules an additional early release day in October to facilitate parent-teacher conferences.

However, the changes that have pushed teachers’ start date from Aug. 19 to Aug. 16 have drawn the ire of some employees.

“A lot of staff members have made those last-minute vacation plans, so they have plane tickets, they’ve made arrangements for camping trips,” Albany County Education Association co-president Ami Cass told the school board.

The school board opted to move forward with the calendar that requires teachers to report to work on Aug. 16, though superintendent Jubal Yennie said he’ll try accommodating teachers who’ve already made plans for that time.

In 2017, the first day of work for teachers coincided with a total solar eclipse that passed over Wyoming and Yennie said he did not require staff to show up to work.

“I do not worry that teachers are putting in enough time (before classes begin),” Yennie said. “They are usually here a lot before school starts.”

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