Furlough Day Opinions

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Deanna Agneta, The Bark Opinions Editor
November 10, 2011
Filed under Opinion

It’s always nice to have day off from school–a time to relax and get away from the “mundane” schedule of classes and studying. But can this day off be considered a vacation even if was enacted as a type of “last resort” for saving the school district’s budget?

The non-working day, also known as a furlough day, involves the shut-down of the school district and a day off where teachers, administrators, and other staff members do not get paid. Nevertheless, students cheered when they heard of the upcoming day off from school, hoping it would be on a Monday or a Friday, getting an extra long weekend.
No such luck. The decision of what day to choose as the furlough day seemed quite odd to students and parents–a Tuesday? In the middle of the week, it posed problems for working parents with young children.

It didn’t matter much to us high schoolers, as we are old enough to stay home alone, but the furlough day was not just imposed on the two high schools in Morgan Hill. The entire school district was affected by this non-working day. Parents of students in elementary school faced the issue of scrambling to find a day care or a babysitter to watch their children for the day.

The parents of students were not just frustrated about finding someone to watch their children–they were also worried about the effect it would have on the focus in classrooms that week. Students attended one day of school, enough time to have their teachers explain what would be going on that week. Rather than going to school on Tuesday to begin most of the heavier workload of school work, students remained at home and avoided following a strict “school-like” schedule.

When Wednesday rolled around that week, high school students came to school an hour later than normal–following the “late start Wednesdays” schedule implemented last year. After returning from a “break” from school, students felt a slackened pace in classes and coursework due to the shortened classes and inclusion of Advisory.

Did the interruption in the school week negatively affect the learning and studying cycle of students? Many parents believe it did–the separation of the week into two sections made it seem more abrupt and rushed.

Parents, irritated at the decision made by the school district, wrote the Morgan Hill Times and ranted to family and friends about the inconvenience caused by the hasty decisions.

Why would the furlough day be on a Tuesday, of all days? Why didn’t they choose to take a furlough day on Monday or Friday? Questions like this formed the basis of the frustration felt by students and parents alike.

Teachers and administrators stated that the furlough day was not put on a Monday or Friday because that would “reward” the students.

The budget problem is an issue that all members of the school district should be aware of–students and parents included.

But it does not seem to make much sense that students must be negatively affected by this day off. A three day weekend may seem like a “reward,” but if that’s a reward, is Tuesday off a punishment?

It is understandable that the furlough day was necessary and beneficial to the school district. And one cannot deny the affect it had on our budget. But the inconvenience imposed on parents, due to its placement in the middle of the week, could have been avoided.

If there are more furlough days to come, this debate will not subside, but rather reappear and perhaps become stronger. Furlough days, though imposed in “desperate” times, should not be directed at making the lives of students and parents more complicated.

Yes, it helped our school district regain some of its financial footing, and was a good solution under the conditions present at the time. But only time will tell if another furlough day will be implemented, and if that will once again cause an uproar amongst parents and students.