Announcing the changes before a noticeably smaller audience than during the January 22nd Board Of Education (BOE) meeting, the BOE unanimously voted to a revised 2013-14 school district calendar. Most notable was the inclusion of the observance of Rosh Hashanah, the removal of Veterans Day as a day off, and moving the last day of school to Friday. There will still be 183 school days with three (3) days to be used for snow or other emergencies which would buffer the district from falling below the state mandated 180 school days.
The first day of school, originally proposed for Wednesday, September 4, 2013, was moved to the following Monday, September 9, 2013. An additional ‘Staff In-Service’ day was added on September 4, 2013 and school will be closed in observance of Rosh Hashanah on September 5th and 6th. These days were not included in the originally proposed calendar.
Veterans Day, November 11th, was removed as an observance and schools will remain open. BOE memebr. Barbara Sokol commented that although she understood the complexities of the calendar,, she wished that Veterans Day had remained as a day of observance in the district. At the very least, she requested, children should be made aware of the importance of the day throughout the school day.
Other changes in the calendar included extending spring recess until April 21, 2014 and moving the last day of school from June 18th to June 20th.
BOE member Scott Nelson stated that the committee met the previous Wednesday and included School Superintendent Spagnoletti, BOE President Chris Miller, principals, teachers, guidance counselors, and parents. The calendar was reviewed month by month and the committee reached a consensus on the changes. He stated, “It was a very collegial gathering.”
At the previous BOE meeting, five (5) Jewish teachers – with Tiffany Bain and Andew Kozodoy as their spokeswomen – publicly asked why the BOE did not decide to close schools in observance of certain Jewish Holy Days. Additionally, PTSA members Clare Bulger and Pura Kurywczak publicly lobbied to move the last day of school, and thereby Project Graduation, from Wednesday to Friday.
Addressing those issues, Mr. Nelson commented, “In general, we hope that this problem that we heard about at the last meeting, it will not happen again. We’ll make sure that there’s a calendar committee next year because I think most of us agree that’s the way to go; to make sure that everyone’s involved again from administration to most importantly parents.”
BOE President Chris Miller, in trying to improve the consistency of calendars from year to year, recommended to have the calendar committee review school calendars for two years instead of just having them go over the next year’s calendar.
In response to a question of students and families that practice other faiths, Mr. Nelson remarked, “That discussion certainly took place last Wednesday. Certainly, we have a sizable Indian population. We have Muslim students. The general consensus among the members of the committee was that when there was a sizable number of parents who came to us with this concern – that this was preventing their children from receiving the same number of days of education – that they really wanted us to consider including that as a holiday – at that time we would consider but until we have a number of families that would be directly affected by those holidays, we decided to keep it at that for now.”
Mr. Nelson did not elaborate as to how many parents or families would constitute a ‘sizable number’ but he did add that not only were the students taken into account but also the teachers and faculty.
Below is a copy of the revised and approved 2013-14 school calendar which can be downloaded and/or printed.