Parents making plans for the summer vacation of 2018 might want to wait.
Kennewick and Richland officials may delay next year’s graduation so they can have more time for potential snow days and teacher training.
The proposed change shifts next year’s graduation by one week, from June 1 to June 8, for Richland, and June 2 to June 9 for Kennewick.
Since graduation generally occurs five days before the end of school, the remaining students may also stay in school an additional week.
The two districts contract with the Toyota Center to host their graduations, and they are looking at the schedule for a new five-year agreement with the venue.
Kennewick Superintendent Dave Bond said the calendar is constrained at the beginning of the school year by the late August date of the Benton Franklin Fair and Rodeo.
Many students show animals at the fair. Eastgate Elementary is located next to the fairgrounds, creating a possible distraction and traffic congestion.
If we’re not starting until after the fair, and we’re going to graduate the first Saturday in June, there are only so many days that are inside of there.
Kennewick Superintendent Dave Bond
Having graduation on the first weekend in June can create problems on the other end — particularly when the first Saturday falls within the first few days in the month, Bond said.
“If we’re not starting until after the fair, and we’re going to graduate the first Saturday in June, there are only so many days that are inside of there,” he said.
As a solution, Bond suggested changing how the graduation date is determined. If the first weekend falls during the first four days of the month, then graduation would occur on the second weekend of June.
“The net effect of that is that graduation would only occur on the dates of June 5 through June 11,” he said.
Richland district officials shared a similar proposal with school board members at a recent meeting. School board President Rick Jansons said members were in favor of adjusting the dates, so they can continue sharing the contract with Kennewick.
“We want to let the community know that we’re talking about it,” he said. “No details were provided. ... The administration was only looking for some feedback.”
The districts recently sorted out their schedules for the 2017 calendar, after Kennewick lost 10 days and Richland canceled nine because of snow or ice on the roads.
We want to let the community know that we’re talking about it.
Richland school board President Rick Jansons
Bond said Kennewick didn’t plan for any snow days in the 2017 calendar. Staff members are spending three Saturdays in school and parent-teacher conferences were moved to the end of the year so students could finish classes on June 14.
“We might not have another snow day again. ... It’d be nice to build two or three in,” Bond said. “We survived it, but we’re wounded.”
Along with allowing for snow days, the change would give Kennewick more time for teacher training. The district scheduled seven professional days before school started in the fall.
“Ideally, we’d like to have them scattered through the year,” Bond said. “(Seven days in a row) overwhelms the teachers and at some point they’re no longer benefiting from the professional instruction they’re getting.”
Kennewick officials are expected to make a decision about next year’s calendar at the board’s April meeting, said Robyn Chastain, the director of communications and public relations.
A decision from the Richland board will be made after summer union negotiations, according to the district.