The 2014-2015 school year will begin the day after Labor Day and students will attend classes 180 days, according to the new school calendar approved by the Duxbury School Committee last week.
The committee briefly discussed the calendar and unanimously voted to accept it at their monthly meeting Jan. 8.
School begins Tuesday, Sept. 2 and ends Monday, June 15, 2015. Graduation will be on Saturday, June 6, 2015.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Ben Tantillo noted there will be seven half-days for students, which serve as professional days for teachers. These days fall on Oct. 10, Nov. 6, Dec. 8, 2014, and Feb. 6, March 17, May 15 and June 5, 2015. Tantillo made chang- es to two of the half days from the draft calendar he had previously presented. He changed the half-day on Jan. 16 to Feb. 6 due to the high school’s mid-term study period and he moved the half-day on May 13 to Friday, May 15 to coincide with prom weekend.
The 2014-2015 school calendar differs from the current school calendar, as it lists 180 student days versus 183 days.
Last year, Tantillo said the three extra school days were necessary to meet the state’s hourly requirements because the school department switched its teacher professional days from full days to half-days at the teachers’ request. Teachers felt that half-days would allow for more meetings and would result in more progress in professional development. The longer school calendar caused some controversy last summer when parents learned about it.
School Committee vice- chairman Mary Lou Buell said she paid close attention to the proposed school calendar.
“This time I really studied the calendar and I think it looks fine,” Buell said.
One parent voiced her concerns about the half-day professional days. Jen Klein
said that the half-days made it difficult for high school students to have enough time to visit colleges when they were in session in the fall before applications were due.
Klein said a new high school policy also made this challenging. She said the previous high school policy had allowed juniors two excused absences and seniors four excused absences in order to visit colleges. Now, Klein said the policy gives juniors one day and seniors two days.
“They used to use the full professional days as visiting days,” she said.
While students can visit colleges in the summer, Klein said they need to get a feel for the school when it is in session and before applications are due. She said she tried to bring the problems caused by half- day professional days and the reduced excused day policy to the high school administration but was unsuccessful.
“I made that effort but it has been rebuffed,” she said.
School committee chairman Anne Ward acknowledged the importance of college visits and agreed that “it is getting more and more challenging” for students to visit colleges, especially those out of state, without getting unexcused absences.
Tantillo said students can visit colleges during the February and April vacations, but Klein pointed out that only juniors can do that as seniors must complete applications due in the fall.
Tantillo indicated he might look into the issue.
"Maybe there could be a little bit more flexibility on the high school's part," he said.