County schools will get Thanksgiving week off


Published: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 2:38 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 2:38 p.m.

At last Tuesday's School Board meeting, the board approved a calendar proposed by the Alachua County Education Association in a 3-2 vote, with Board Chair Eileen Roy joining Gunnar Paulson and Leanetta McNealy to vote in favor of it. April Griffin and Carol Oyenarte voted against it.

The union-proposed calendar gives students the Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving off, making that whole week a holiday.

The board had heard opposition and support for the ACEA calendar in anticipation of last Tuesday's vote, including at the Feb. 5 meeting where, in a 3-2 vote that mirrored last Tuesday's vote, the board voted down a calendar that kept the week of Thanksgiving as is.

Supporters of the "fall break" plan say that absenteeism runs higher than usual in the two days before Thanksgiving break, and a lack of focus also hurts classes.

Opponents have said child care would be an extra burden to parents, particularly those who work hourly wages.

The disagreement on the issue was reflected on the dais, where Oyenarte and Griffin have voiced concerns that echoed the majority of community members who emailed the board before the Feb. 5 meeting.

At that time, the board received about 100 messages, and 70 were against the fall break.

The ACEA polled union and non-union employees across the district and received a response from 1,800 respondents, or almost half of all employees.

About 70 percent were in favor of the break.

Before the vote last Tuesday, Roy explained that no further changes could be made to the ACEA proposal — the only option left on the table. "The time for crafting the calendar has passed," she said.

Evelyn Foxx, president of the local branch of the NAACP, spoke during a comment period Roy opened up right before the vote.

Foxx reiterated the stance she had at the Feb. 5 meeting, where she opposed the fall break.

"While it may not be a major economic problem for you, it is parents who are struggling to keep their heads above water."

After the meeting, Roy was relieved that the issue had finally been put to rest with a final vote.

"Finally, the calendar issue is done," she said.

Joey Flechas is a Gainesville Sun staff writer.

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