Subscribe to the Duxbury Clipper and stay informed where news matters most –– your hometown!
|Longer year a hardship|
|Written by Gillian Smith|
|Wednesday, 28 August 2013 08:34|
With the new school year starting today, students will be walking through the schools’ doors three days more than in past years and some parents are not pleased.
At the Aug. 21 meeting of the school committee, two parents of students in Duxbury public schools expressed concern over the new school calendar, which has the school year running for 183 days, instead of 180 days, as has been traditional.
Valri Fountain, who has students in Duxbury’s schools, addressed the school committee during the time allotted for comments from the public and said she did not understand why the year is longer.
“I’m not for a longer school year,” she said. “In fact I wish our laws would give us more flexibility and let the districts decide if we want to have longer days or shorter years.”
School superintendent Benedict Tantillo addressed Fountain’s concerns, explaining the reason behind changing the calendar to 183 was to allow for more professional development half-days for teachers.
“There are so many initiatives for our teachers now – whether it’s federal, state or local,” he said. “With just a couple of full-day professional development days, there would be significant lag time in between. We would discuss something at the beginning of the year and wouldn’t get into the meat of it until months later.”
Tantillo said the teachers asked to change the full-day professional development into half-days, which would allow for more meetings and would result in more progress with professional development. The state requires students to be in school for 180 days, but it also has a certain number of hours required for students: 900 hours for elementary schools, 990 hours for second- ary school, and 425 hours for kindergarten. Teachers also have a strict 185-day contract. Snow days do not count as school days.
Students will be attending school for 183 days this year in order to meet the hour requirements.
“We don’t want to be caught with not enough days or hours,” Tantillo said. “In addition, the professional development days incorporate common core, use of technology, math, behavioral programs and more, which will enhance the education of our students.”
Another parent, Camille Martinez, expressed a similar concern regarding the longer school year. Among her big concerns was the hardship for working parents.
“An increased number of half days means we have to try to figure out what to do with our kids on all of those days,” she said. “To say its not a big change discredits that. It’s a hardship.”
Martinez said another concern was the altered schedule for students on half days.
“I mentioned the change to my children and they all had the same response,” she said. “They told me teachers simply collect homework and that’s it.
Anne Ward, School Committee chairwoman, said she was “of two minds” concerning the issue.
“While we all love the summer and opportunities to do things with our families, the school year is already compressed for teachers,” she said. “They have to comply with mandates, prepare for testing and accomplish initiatives all within one school year.”
Ward said members of the public are welcome to attend any school committee meet- ings. The committee typically starts working out the following year’s school calendar in December and spends a couple of meetings working out logistics, she said.
"Some parents don’t like that we have both Febru- ary and April vacations,” she said. “The calendar is a work in progress every year, as we figure out when to start, where breaks land and so on.”
The 2013-14 school year is slated to end on June 16, barring any snow days.