Superintendent Dr. Ben Tantillo offered the idea to cancel the winter vacations in 2014 and 2015 to the school committee at their meeting last week.
The committee discussed the school calendars for 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 but made no decisions to eliminate any vacations because the idea carries with it many complications. They did however agree to the concept of changing the calendars for the next two years.
Any changes will not affect February vacation in 2013.
Tantillo wants to make sure there is enough time during the summer of 2014 for the move into the new middle school and high school, which will share one building that is currently under construction behind the middle school.
To accomplish this, he is proposing creating a 13-week summer by sending students to school three days before Labor Day weekend on
Aug. 27, 2013 and having teachers report a day earlier on Aug. 26. He would also eliminate February break in 2014 in order to end school on June 6, 2014. Also, he is thinking of sending students back to school in September 2014 during the week after Labor Day to gain an extra week for the move and for the demolition of the present middle school and high schools.
Graduation for the class of 2014 would take place on Memorial Day weekend, he said.
However, if children go back later in September, 2014, they would again lose their February vacation in 2015.
School committee members had many questions about Tantillo’s idea to change the school calendars.
Member Anne Ward asked if high school seniors would have enough time to take their MCAS, AP tests and senior finals before school let out in early June 2014.
“How do you get all those exams in?” Ward asked.
Tantillo said he would make sure to input all the exams into the calendar before the committee took up the discussion again.
School committee member Gary Magnuson said he favored combining the February and April vacations into one March vacation but was told that was impossible because the state MCAS testing takes place the third and fourth week of March and students need time to prepare.
Magnuson pointed out that eliminating February vacation would affect staff who lived in other school districts and whose children would be on vacation while they were in work.
“This isn’t a permanent thing,” Tantillo responded. “If they sign a contract to work, they have to work.”
Ward said that cancelling February vacation limits time high school students have for college visits.
School committee vice-chairman MaryLou Buell asked what was Tantillo’s justification in cancelling February vacation versus the April spring break. She said that the fourth term was very “compressed” for high school students.
Tantillo said that February vacation comes soon after the December holiday break and that there is a holiday in January before the February vacation. He noted that students would still not attend school on Presidents’ Day in February, so they would have some time off.
Under the two altered school calendars for 2013-2015, students would still be attending school the same amount of days and teachers would have the same amount of professional days, said Tantillo.