At last night’s Board Of Education (BOE) meeting, Roselle Park School District (RPSD) Superintendent Pedro Garrido addressed the issue of whether to keep April 6th as a makeup day for the March 21st snow day. Friday, April 6th, will be a half-day instead of what was originally scheduled to be a full day of school.
Mr. Garrido addressed the public about the school calendar which was approved last year and had April 6th as a day that would be used in case it was needed.
“The board exhausted all options to make sure that we had the least disruptive date for students to come in – including spring break – [and] we decided that we were going to stick to the original date which is April 6th, it’s the Friday of spring break to make up the date . . . However, recognizing that attendance may be low, I am recommending to the board that we go on a four-hour day which will be an early dismissal for the students.”
Mr. Garrido continued, “When we do have a very low attendance, it makes sense to have four hours which by law, four hours of uninterrupted instruction counts as a full day. So what we’re going to do tomorrow we will be posting [it] on the website, we’ll be making our phone blast and also e-mail letters to let the parents know that April 6th will be a school day, which is next Friday.”
The superintendent remarked that in the research he did on the matter, “Most other districts around the state [are] doing very similar to what we’re doing here.”
New Jersey law requires all school districts have at least 180 school days during the school year. RPSD has 183 days. The three extra days are in place as a buffer to address such things as snow days. During some years, those days were not used and students had extra days off at the end of the year.
This year, so far, there were four (4) days in which Roselle Park schools were closed due to inclement weather: January 3rd, March 7th, March 8th, and March 21st.
The last snow day caused the school calendar to turn a scheduled day off into a school day. In the 2017-18 school calendar which was reviewed and approved last year, the following dates were to become regular schools days if more than three (3) snow days were used:
- February 20, 2018
- February 19, 2018
- April 6, 2018
- April 5, 2018
- April 4, 2018
Since the fourth snow day occurred in March, the first date to be used was Friday, April 6th.
Some parents wanted this coming Friday, March 30th, to be used. It is the Christian holy day Good Friday which is an official New Jersey state holiday. Passover is also on Friday this year but it begins in the evening of the 30th. According to a source familiar with discussions, the board had explored having school on Good Friday but were told that since it is a state holiday, school cannot be in session. Monday night, the Woodbridge Township Board Of Education voted to have their schools’ make-up day be Good Friday (link). That decision had that district’s school break remain uninterrupted.
Another option would have been to have school on a Saturday, which the Clifton Board Of Education approved on Monday night (link).
The make-up dates – and the compromise – are welcome for some but there are still parents with concerns. Quite a number of families had planned – and paid for – vacations during spring break while others will have to adjust their schedules to bring their children to school only to pick them up – or make arrangements to have them cared for – just four hours later.
“What about the pre-k?”, asked a parent about their child’s schedule, “My son is in morning pre-k. That is just two-and-a-half hours on a normal day.”
Parent Jeanne Gregory commented after hearing about the decision, “If the kids need to come in for school, just make it a full day. This half-day stuff makes things difficult for working parents and makes them [stay] in aftercare even longer.”
There was no public comment from the board or administration during last night’s meeting as to how after-care will be addressed.
“That’s a bigger issue than a half day or full day of school,” stated Mrs. Gregory, asking, “Did they discuss after-care when deciding on the additional school day?”
The Work-Family Connection out of Chatham (link) provides before-care and after-care services in the school district in each of the district’s elementary schools. It had been scheduled to provide full-day care during spring break all next week and is to be held at the Anthony Signorello Youth Center only. It is not known if after-care will be at the center or in the schools next Friday.