Many encouraged the district to take a pioneering role in
acknowledging not only Armenian Christmas, but also the April 24
observation of the Armenian Genocide, as official school holidays.
The issue has come up in recent weeks because about 35% of the
district's 29,200 students -- more than 10,000 students -- are of
Armenian descent, and most of them do not attend school Jan. 6.
Since Glendale Unified earns about $25 per student per day in
state Average Daily Attendance funds, the district lost more than
$250,000 on Jan. 6 because so many students did not show up for
The district is in the process of cutting about $8 million from
its operating budget because of the state budget deficit, and the
$250,000 loss due to student absences is one that district
officials prefer to avoid next school year.
Although many students do not attend school April 24 because the
day is designated for observance of the Armenian Genocide, the
district does not lose money for student absences because the state
stops paying attendance funds in mid-April, officials said.
Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day is set aside to commemorate the
estimated 1.5 million Armenians who were killed by the Ottoman Turks
between 1915 and 1923.
Patrick Davarhanian, a Clark Magnet High School senior and member
of the school's Armenian Club, encouraged board members to give
students both days off.
"You will be acknowledged as great humanitarians by proclaiming
these days off," said Davarhanian, 18. "By recognizing these
important dates, the Armenian community will greatly appreciate it."
The issue of changing the district's calendar was up for
discussion. Board members did not vote on changing the traditional
school calendar year.
District officials met Wednesday morning to discuss the proposed
calendar changes, but no final decision was made.
"I think it's painful to many because change is always painful,"
school board President Pam Ellis said Wednesday. "We are moving in
that direction, but it needs to be negotiated, and I am hoping we can
reach a compromise soon. It needs to be done right away."
Ellis said she has received about 100 e-mails from parents in the
past week, many saying they support recognizing Jan. 6 as a holiday,
but preferring not to give students the whole week off.
Several parents criticized board members during Tuesday's meeting
for not including them in the conversation about the proposed changes
to the calendar.
"I am very disappointed that this school board chose not to
partner with parents on this matter," said Teri Harter, a member of
the district's Council PTA. "I need you to know that we are dismayed
that we were not asked for input."
Board members apologized for not including parents in the debate,
and promised to work diligently to solve the issue.
"We should have asked," board member Chuck Sambar said.
The Glendale Teachers Assn. must approve the 2004-05 school year
calendar, and Supt. Michael Escalante and district staff must submit
a calendar proposal to the school board for final approval.
It had not been decided Wednesday when the calendar changes would
come back for a board vote.