Parents and employees of New Castle County’s public school districts can celebrate a small win for the first time in apparently decades. The school district heads began talking to one another earlier this year and a logical, thoughtful and an applauded outcome occurred. For the first time in many years and with very limited exceptions, New Castle County districts including Appoquinimink, Brandywine, Christina, Colonial, New Castle County Vo-Tech and Red Clay, are on nearly identical school calendars for the 2011-2012 school year.
Family and work balances are touted in many industries, but often times poorly executed. This was especially true in the case of individuals working in Colonial School District with children attending another district. With Colonial insisting on a mid-August start date in previous years, it would wreak havoc on family schedules and finances. Employees were faced with returning to school several weeks before their own children, unnecessarily burdening the family with oftentimes difficult-to-find and expensive childcare or camp placements.
When I was working full-time, my previous employer would graciously grant employees a week of vacation aligned with the typical Easter/spring break calendar. What a fantastic benefit this was for all employees, let alone employees with children in school. Many co-workers recognized this opportunity as valued time with their children who were also home for spring break. Unfortunately, the former Colonial administration insisted on scheduling spring break either weeks earlier or later than the assumed standard. As parents of a young Colonial student, spring break was a scheduling nightmare for many weeks figuring out which of us would be taking vacation time from work or other costlier childcare options. It was expensive to our family budget and work schedules. Like most parents, my husband and I were willing to sacrifice for our daughter and we made it work no matter the cost.
Families were faced with further childcare and budgeting challenges when their child’s district ended on June 1st, but their employee commitment at another school district did not end until late June. The family unit, whatever its makeup may be, was excluded again as a scheduling priority. For the third major time in the school year, parents were again faced with burdening and expensive childcare options and scheduling difficulties.
There are endless similar stories from school employees and families alike. With children attending different school districts, a single working parent suffered the worst burden from these misaligned school calendars. What an inconvenience families were forced into and with such a seemingly careless attitude towards customer service by certain districts. Feeling like Colonial was sabotaging its own customers and employees with its refusal to recognize and adjust this outlandish school calendar, I do appreciate our new Colonial superintendent’s willingness to address and repair an unfavorable issue by aligning the school calendar with surrounding districts. Based on this recognition of aligning the district calendars, it is a positive step in the right direction identifying employees and families involved with multi-districts can more easily balance their work and life schedules.