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EmaLee Hamman passes out worksheets to students in October 2018 in her second-grade class at Bickel Elementary School in Twin Falls.

TWIN FALLS — The Twin Falls School District is working to create next school year’s calendar and wants your input.

A survey went out to parents last week. It’s also available on the school district’s website. The deadline to fill it out is Nov. 16.

School boards are responsible for creating a school calendar each year. It’s a decision that directly impacts families who have children in school, dictating how they plan for vacations and figure out daycare for days school isn’t in session.

It’s crucial for parents to take the time to fill out the survey, said Eva Craner, spokeswoman for the Twin Falls School District. “If they have strong feelings but don’t voice them, the committee doesn’t know.”

A 27-member calendar committee — which includes parents, as well as a teacher or administrator from every school — began meeting in late October. The group is looking at this year’s calendar and evaluating whether any changes are needed for next school year — 2019-20 — based on feedback it receives from parents and school employees.

Typically, the committee makes a recommendation to the school board in January. The timing of that recommendation, though, depends on how many changes are needed.

In this year’s parent survey, questions cover topics such as school start and end dates, the length of Christmas break, and whether to have school on Veterans Day and Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

“The start and end to the school year dictate everything else,” Craner said.

Pam Rahe, a kindergarten through fifth-grade special education teacher at Bickel Elementary School, is co-chairwoman for the calendar committee. Committee members look at survey results from parents and employees, and see where preferences align, Rahe said. The goal: “Overall, what is going to be best for the students?”

Melissa Ficklin is one of two parent representatives on the committee. Ficklin — who has four children, three of whom are in the Twin Falls school system — is also Parent Teacher Student Association president at Canyon Ridge High School.

It’s her third year on the committee. The group has already met twice this fall, she said. They decided to survey parents and teachers again this year. Both groups are asked for their opinions “because sometimes those are night and day,” Ficklin said.

When it comes to days off, some teachers say they need that break, she said, but parents have daycare issues to consider.

Last year, parents voiced concerns about too many partial school weeks in October and about wanting a later school start date, so those changes were reflected in this year’s calendar.

In terms of the survey, “I think it’s amazing that we go to this extreme to find out what people want,” Ficklin said, but it’s not always easy and some parents complain if their preference isn’t implemented.

In a school district with about 9,700 students and 1,000 employees, “there are a lot of different interests at play,” Craner said. “There’s a lot of compromise and give-and-take.”


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