At last night’s meeting of the Board of Education, superintendent Dr. Kevin Smith proposed a calendar for the 2019-2020 school year to the board members. The most notable feature was the district’s proposed return to a pre-Labor Day start of the school year.
In recent years the district had scheduled the first day of school to the Tuesday after Labor Day. For the 2017-2018 school year, the late start was one reason the school year extended to the last possible day in June, after the district also had a high number of snow day closures. School officials were forced to use part of April vacation to make the minimum number of school days required by the state. Many parents, students and teachers were unhappy with how late the school year ended–and how short the summer break that followed felt.
Smith elicited chuckles from the Board with his tongue-in-cheek introduction of the discussion.
“You may recall we got some feedback about the calendar and the start date because we had to close a couple times as a result of the weather. While previously many people were feeling good about a post-Labor Day start, ending on June 27 was popular with nobody. So we’ve made some changes.”
The proposed first day of school for students in 2019 is now scheduled for the first Tuesday in August–Aug. 27. There are other significant changes Smith listed for the board members:
- school will be closed the Wednesday before Thanksgiving; previously students attended on a shortened day schedule
- an additional day for February recess
- two additional early-release days for professional development (Wednesday, Feb. 12, and Wednesday, Mar. 11)
- more flexible delayed start-time plans: 1-hour delay and 3-hour delay in addition to existing 2-hour delay options
Smith said the district explored whether a 3-hour delay option was feasible and provided enough time in school to count as a full day of instruction in the state’s 180-day requirement.
One thing WEA president Andrew Nicsaji did object to, according to Smith, was the idea to make Columbus Day a school day, rather than a holiday.
“I had taken Columbus Day, it was going to be a day of school, but he said the consensus of teachers, people felt very strongly, they’ve liked what we’ve had for a long time, which was to close on Columbus Day followed by a P.D. (professional development) day. This is the kind compromise in trying to make it all work. I thought we could live with that.”
As a result, the planned last day of school for 2019-2020 is now Friday, June 12.
The calendar also now lists emergency closing make-up days, and the impact they would have for the scheduled last day.
The board will vote on the proposed calendar at its next meeting, Thursday, Oct. 11.
Smith also distributed a draft of the calendar for the 2020-2021, which the board is scheduled to accept at its next meeting as well. The vote to adopt that calendar won’t happen until next year.