Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

Education

February 13, 2014

School calendar up for vote

Pre- or post-Labor Day start being debated

(Continued)

But what drew the most questions and comments were the six half school days built into all three calendars for in-service teacher and staff development needs. On those days, students are released from school after a half day to allow for professional training.

“The kids get there at 8:45 a.m. and they’re dismissed at 10:45 at the elementary schools. That’s a two-hour day, and by the time they have their snow pants off and they have their books, why they went is questionable,” Scully said. “The handling of these-early release days is laughable.”

Sanborn Elementary School parent Susan McCready also called for a change to the district’s use of half days.

“The children even feel it’s a waste of time,” McCready said. “I don’t know if they have the opportunity, especially for the very young children, to get anything done on those days.”

Summer Street resident Brad Weeden pressed the School Committee to consolidate the six half-days into three full days off for students.

Part of Weeden’s thinking involved the fact that, with half days, students still require the same amount of transportation to get to and from school. Consolidating the half days into three full school days and three full days off would cut bus trips and be less disruptive to students and parents, he said.

“If you have three days full off instead of just six days half, the kids effectively get just as many hours of constructive learning, but you avoid the whole, disruptive effect of those days on taxpayers and parents, and the costs that are involved in just getting students to and from school,” Weeden said.

School officials said last week that once they set the 2014-2015 school calendar early next month, they hope to then finalize the following year’s calendar by late spring.

The goal, they said, is to have the calendar set for two years out, so that even if parents are not happy with the schedule, they can at least plan for it. School staff will be surveyed prior to deciding the following year’s calendar, they added.

To view the three calendars being proposed and comment to the School Committee, visit www.aps1.net/index.aspx?NID=1382.

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