In a joint LBUSD School Board and LB City Council meeting held Jan. 29, Sherine Smith, superintendent, cited a 43% response rate to a November email survey of parents about ‘considering to possibly change’ the school calendar.
Further, Ms. Smith shared that 75% of LBUSD teachers responded.
When asked how the parents’ responses to the survey broke down, for and against, Ms. Smith couldn’t provide any figures. When asked later after the meeting, what is the (allegedly high) absentee rate on the Monday and Tuesday of Thanksgiving week—her rationale for the newly extended Thanksgiving vacation week and late August school start—Ms. Smith again was unable to substantiate her argument with any statistics.
It’s remarkable that the response rates were known to Ms. Smith, but not the more useful information of favorable vs. unfavorable responses, or even the absentee rates. There wasn’t even an educated guess as to the facts, or maybe it was an educator guessing that no one would pay attention to the missing facts.
Ms. Smith went on to rationalize the changed school calendar as a schedule kept by close to “half of other OC school districts”.
Since when did Laguna Beach need to be like everyone else? Isn’t this town’s uniqueness what we all cherish? When the tourists visiting our Pageant, Sawdust, beaches and shops during the summer’s last days wonder out loud, “where are all the local kids”, tell them that Ms. Smith thought she knew better than the parents who responded, even if she couldn’t tell you how many favored the early end of summer.
When pressed for explaining a change that no one asked for, Ms. Smith argued that the new calendar was a ‘pilot program’. How about calling it a dumb idea instead? How about ‘considering to possibly change’ something else, like her process or her management style?
Paul Meyer, Laguna Beach