Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


March 21, 2013

Good Friday added as school day after storm

Tuesday’s snowstorm will send school officials back to the drawing board on the school calendar, after the School Committee voted last week to hold high school classes on Good Friday due to the number of school days lost at the high school so far this year.

Before this week’s storm, Andover’s nine elementary, middle and choice schools were set to have their last day of school on Friday, June 28, the last regular day possible in the calendar before the end of the academic year. The teachers contract does not allow any school days after June 30.

The high school faced a different problem, however. Because a gas leak closed that school on Jan. 10, opening up Andover High on a Saturday or holiday is now necessary to make up that day, according to Superintendent Marinel McGrath.

The committee voted 4-1 to have a half-day of school on Good Friday, March 29.

“Good Friday is not a federal holiday,” McGrath said. “It’s one we give to the parent community for religious observances. Therefore, we can have a half-release day and people can still fulfill their religious observations, because in the Christian faiths, between 12 and 3 o’clock are the main times that people would need to observe.”

Additionally, “since we’ll have that as an early release day, parents can write to excuse them for that day and it doesn’t count towards their absenteeism,” McGrath said.

A backup date for the extra day of school has been slated for Saturday, April 27. School staff are able to put in for a religious observance for Good Friday, and they had until yesterday, Wednesday, to do so, according to McGrath.

“If in fact we don’t have enough teachers, then we have to default to April 27,” she said.

Committee member David Birnbach opposed the plan, however, saying he felt holidays “are black and white, either we do them or not.”

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