DMPS staffers threatening to resign if new district calendar proposal passes

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Feelings are more than mixed when it comes to the new Des Moines Public Schools proposal for the 2022-23 school year calendar. For some teachers the changes, if kept as is, may be enough to up and leave the district.

“The proposed calendar, while well-intentioned, will cause some of our educators to look elsewhere for jobs and these jobs are easy to come by these days,” said Casey Force, who spoke at Tuesday night’s school board meeting during the public comment portion.

Force says she has worked within the district for 11 years. The calendar proposes the district would observe more diverse holidays like Yom Kippur, Epiphany, the Lunar New Year and Ramadan.

Parent-teacher conferences would still take place in the fall and spring with a school end date a week later than in recent years on June 6. The end date would allow high school staff and administrators to have a full Memorial Day weekend off.

Based on the district’s 2022-23 school year proposed calendar survey results from over 6,000 parents, staff, community members and students, public opinion of the proposal will take some winning over. The results showed 64% agreed to having concerns with the calendar, 66% disagreed with extending the year further into June. However, over 55% strongly agreed or agreed with the addition of more inclusive holidays.

There was no action on the proposed calendar Tuesday night and it was simply informational, but the public commenter says the domino effect if passed next month will come swiftly. Force said, “The great resignation is looming among us. I’m pleading with you on behalf of my colleagues and with complete dedication to this district, it’s families and students to reconsider the calendar. An end date near Memorial Day is ideal and for some it is necessary to have the same end date as their kids who are in other districts.”

The district says a vote is scheduled at the next board meeting on Dec. 7. It would be among the first action items for the newly sworn in school board after November’s election.

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