Skip to content

McAllen school board approves calendar after criticism

With significant difficulty, McAllen ISD trustees approved Monday a calendar that will move the district’s start date up by about a week next year and spread out teacher planning days more evenly throughout the school year.

The board only very narrowly managed to approve a calendar; it spent most of the discussion bickering over holidays.

The calendar was the result of three months of work by a committee and staff, and won the votes from a significant majority of parents and teachers over two other options.

Despite all of that, it faced criticism from trustees Monday.

One questioned whether the process had been democratic enough.

Others discussed the merits of Columbus Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and Thanksgiving, talking about which holidays helped the district most strategically and weighing their value from an ethical standpoint.

The ethics of a long-standing informal tradition of many Rio Grande Valley governmental institutions to sacrifice a holiday on MLK day for one on the Monday following the Super Bowl — and whether McAllen ISD was engaging in that tradition — came up.

“It is not acceptable to me to not have MLK day off. It’s a day of service and I think everybody should have that day to honor MLK as well as to utilize that day for service or some kind of service project,” Trustee Sofia Peña said.

Things became somewhat awkward during a discussion on whether the board was overstepping its bounds by even discussing the calendar the way it was.

“If you took offense, it was not meant to be an offense… But the point of the matter, this is governance. We’re getting way beyond the means of now sitting in on administrative, so are we sitting on other functions of the district?” Trustee Sam Saldivar said to Board President Debbie Crane Aliseda at one point.

“This is not governance, so please retract that,” Crane Aliseda shot back.

“I am not retracting it, because it is,” Saldivar replied brusquely.

Superintendent René Gutiérrez told trustees that, functionally, none of that conversation really mattered.

“We’re not gonna find the perfect calendar,” he said. “We’re not gonna find the perfect days that everybody wants. I feel that if the staff wanted certain days off, they would have put them in this option.”

Seeming slightly frustrated, Gutiérrez told the board the district could waste another month considering the calendar and then he’d once again present it with a nearly identical recommendation.

Nonetheless, trustees — led by Crane Aliseda — originally voted 4-3 to do just that Monday.

After executive session, however, the board changed its mind and voted to approve Calendar A as recommended.

That vote was unanimous with the exception of Crane Aliseda, who left the meeting before the board returned from executive.

The 2024-2025 calendar will start the school year on August 19 and end it on June 4.

The current school year started on August 28 and will end on May 31, which the district felt made it less competitive with charter schools and hurt it financially.

Last year’s calendar stacked teacher professional learning days at the very beginning of the school year.

The new calendar doles out planning days and professional learning days more gradually, which the district says teachers requested.

It includes four professional learning days, three teacher workdays, five teacher planning half days, two weather days, 24 holidays and two student early release days.

Leave a Comment