Teachers in the Palos Verdes Peninsula School District saw some extra money in their pay checks this month when district officials reinstated four school days on the calendar.
Five school days had been eliminated over the past four years because of budget constraints. Prior to Proposition 30 passing in November – which raised income tax on the wealthiest taxpayers and increased the sales tax by a quarter-percent – the district agreed with teachers in a memo of understanding to return four days to the school year if it passed. And it did.
Mitzi Cress, principal of Palos Verdes Peninsula High School, said teachers received a lump sum payment for those additional four days in their Feb. 1 paychecks.
“This was greatly appreciated,” Cress said. “It is our hope that educational funding is soon on the right path in restoring much of what we have lost over the last five years. Time will tell.”
Kathy Santarosa, a grade school teacher at Miraleste Intermediary that represents the 600 Peninsula teachers at South Bay United Teachers, said teachers are excited to have almost four school days back. A half day was kept as an in-service day, she said.
“We have been desperate to get our kids back in the classroom,” Santarosa said. “Every study you look at shows it’s only a benefit. The more time you get with each student the better they are going to be. Many other countries go to school far longer than we do.”
This year represents the last year teaching the statewide Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) measures. Starting next year, California joins almost all other states in teaching to the Common Core Standards, which Santarosa said involves much more writing and critical problem solving skills across the curriculum.
The main point of the core standards is reportedly to have a unified set of goals for students across the nation. Teachers who aren’t used to grading a lot of writing will see that infused into their curriculum,” Santarosa said. “It’s going to be important to keep everyone as coordinated as possible. We definitely need to change what we’re doing, but you never know until you actually do it whether it’s going to work or not.”
Next up for teachers, Santarosa said, is pushing to get another instructional day back on the school calendar bringing the district back up to the standard 180 school days.
“Our district also passed a parcel tax that gets $7 million a year from that,” Santarosa said. “We’re not losing enrollment, so we’re hoping to add one more day back on.” ER