Remember that weeklong Thanksgiving break Wichita students and teachers got last year?
It's history now — a victim of the district's return to shorter days and a longer school year.
But Wichita teachers union officials are pushing to bring it back.
Steve Wentz, president of United Teachers of Wichita, said a weeklong Thanksgiving break that was part of the district's calendar the past two years offered "a real break" for families, particularly those who travel over the holiday.
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The 2018-19 academic calendar, approved by the school board in February, features 15 more days than the previous calendar. Under the new calendar, Wichita students will have class the Monday and Tuesday of Thanksgiving week.
During contract talks this past week, Wentz said keeping a weeklong break for Thanksgiving could make a proposed contract "much more palatable" to Wichita teachers if pay doesn't go up as much as they'd like.
"I think that our team will understand those monetary constraints," Wentz said. "And you're going to have a much easier time selling a compensation package when we get to the money part. ... It's doable."
The longer break likely won't be doable this year, since the calendar has been set, said Terrell Davis, assistant superintendent of support services for the district.
"But for 2019-20, this committee could direct the calendar committee to build in a week for Thanksgiving," Davis said. "We have that authority."
The negotiations team tentatively agreed to make that proposal.
Any calendar change also would affect para-educators, custodians, clerical staff and food service workers, who are represented by the Service Employees International Union. Most of those employees don't get paid when school is not in session.
Davis and Wentz said they would like to meet with representatives of that union to work out details.
In 2016, Wichita teachers voted to approve a plan to lengthen the school day and shorten the year, which cut about $3 million from the district's budget. An advantage of that change, Wentz said, were extended breaks at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Having only two days of class the week of Thanksgiving poses a challenge for students and teachers, he added.
"You talk about useless, wasted days — that Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving are it," he said. "Nobody wants to be there. ... You can't get a lot done."