Memorial Day no longer a holiday starting this semester.
By Katherine Garcia
The board of trustees approved giving staff the week off during spring break in exchange for Memorial Day at the regular monthly meeting Tuesday in Killen Center.
The change will begin this semester. Staff will have off the entire week of spring break, March 10-14, instead of having off only the Thursday and Friday of the week.
In return, all employees will give up Memorial Day as a holiday, May 26.
The United Staff Council, which includes representatives of all five colleges and district headquarters, has been trying to make the proposal a reality since fall 2012.
Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Houston, Lone Star and Tarrant County community college districts give their staff off the entire week of spring break.
At a meeting in December with Unified Staff Council, Chancellor Bruce Leslie said staff could get the entire spring break off if they chose to sacrifice one existing holiday.
The consensus was two holidays in April — Good Friday and the Battle of Flowers holiday during Fiesta San Antonio — and Memorial Day.
The council decided on Memorial Day, which met with some opposition from trustees.
“I can agree with the basic premise of increasing the holidays for the staff,” District 8 trustee Gary Beitzel said.
“However, I’m really troubled with doing away with Memorial Day given the fact that this is to commemorate all the folks that have died in the service and have given us the right and freedom to do the things we do here in the colleges in the country, and that we’re addressing tonight. Some other holiday would be OK.”
Leslie suggested approving the existing number of holidays and giving staff the week off or going with the suggestion made at the Audit, Budget and Finance Committee meeting Jan. 14 of celebrating Memorial Day instead of taking the day off.
“Let’s make sure that that day in fact is a day where we do show our respect and appreciation,” Leslie said.
District 5 trustee Roberto Zarate agreed, saying honoring fallen soldiers would be a great opportunity, especially for the city’s military-oriented community.
Beitzel suggested either cut down on the proposed spring break holidays or do away with Labor Day.
He also said removing Memorial Day as a holiday instead of Battle of Flowers during Fiesta San Antonio is “a slap in the face to the military.”
He then proposed amending the proposition to reduce the number of spring break days requested by one.
The motion failed because only four trustees approved. The original motion was approved.
“We will commit to making sure that we in fact take advantage of the fact that we will be here and not at the mall to be celebrating the commitment and dedication of our servicemen,” Leslie said.