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POLL: Board of Ed to Vote on School Calendar Tonight [Updated]

The Board of Education will discuss the suggestion to eliminate the break in favor of letting school out earlier at tonight's meeting.

 

[Editor's Note: This story was originally published on Dec. 1. It was set to post this morning for layout purposes.]

Update, Dec. 13

Members of the are set to vote on the 2012-2013 calendar at their meeting tonight.

At the board's Nov. 22 meeting, newly elected member John Convertito suggested the school board discuss eliminating February break at tonight's meeting.

Since Patch published the previous story on possibly eliminating February vacation from the school calendar, Superintendent of Schools David Title published a blog post with his thoughts on the matter.

While he said he did not feel strongly about the calendar, he's participated in enough calendar debates to know that for any proposed change, "about one-third of people are in favor, one-third against, and one-third who don’t care" -- and that includes both educators and families, Title said.

"Ultimately it comes down to what a community values," he added. Whether that's keeping February break or letting school out earlier in June remains to be seen.

See what members of the community have said so far regarding the possible elimination of February vacation in the original post on the issue.

Original Story, Dec. 1

Could February break be eliminated from the school calendar, beginning in the 2012-2013 school year?

That’s a question the Board of Education will be discussing at its Dec. 13 meeting, according to Board Chair Pamela Iacono.

The idea was suggested by newly elected board member John Convertito at the body’s Nov. 22 meeting. Fellow board member Tim Kery posted the following on his Facebook page Wednesday afternoon:

“The 2012-2013 school year calendar will be before the BoE for a vote at our next meeting on Dec. 13th. One suggestion, at the previous Board of Education meeting, was to eliminate February vacation – designated from February 18-22, 2013 – and shorten the school year by five days. This would make the last day of school June 11th instead of June 18th.”

So far, residents' reaction has been mixed. Those who supported the elimination of February vacation in favor of the school year ending earlier in June had the following to say:

  • Gina Guarnieri Bucciferro: “I think it's a good idea. The kids are just back from Christmas break and then Feb. break comes pretty quickly.”
  • Tracie Valentino: “I would love to see Fairfield lose the Feb break, and instead of April, have a week in March. I know that would impact the CMTs; however the Feb break is so close to the holiday break, and going straight through to April is too long. Because it's a state test, do the CMTs have to be in March? If we lost the Feb break, could we have the CMTs in mid-Feb, and do a mid-March break?”
  • Mara Maffucci Miller: “I was a single working mom when my kids were little. Too early in the year to take a week off, and for those who did not have the funds for ski weekends, or trips to warm weather, it was a very hard week to cover for childcare. Give the kids a longer summer vacation!”

Those opposed to cutting February break said:

  • James McCusker: “That would blow. I would rather give up April break than Feb, it's the only chance to get a break from the cold of winter.”
  • Mary Ellen Brennan-Connelly: “Since president's day falls into Feb break we are only talking about 4 days. Many families do take advantage of this time to ski or go away. Getting out earlier in June will cause the same childcare issues for people as camps and other activities won't be happening yet. Also, odds are likely we would have snow days that week anyways. Not in favor.”
  • Jeanneth Wagner: “Students need the February break, especially in high school. They have midterms right after the December break or the second week in January, which can be mentally strenuous. The Feb. break allows them to recoup from that stress. Otherwise, they would go three months (Jan. - March) without a break. February is also the perfect time to go skiing in New England. There are many families like ours who take advantage of the Feb. break for skiing. This would not be possible in March or April because it would already be too warm for skiing.”

What’s your take on the subject?     

CAB December 01, 2011 at 12:37 PM
My family and I lived in Texas for a few years and they had a longer break in December, but no February break in December. They did have a March break. But none in April. Just putting it out there.
AB December 01, 2011 at 04:53 PM
Get rid of February Break. With the past two winters I would rather take this break away. To the mother that says its a day care problem for her if they get out early in June. This is not a babysitting service! I would have my children out earlier than swelter in a 90+ classroom!!!!
Fairfield native December 01, 2011 at 08:32 PM
Did someone on our BOE really say, "That would blow?"
Fairfield native December 01, 2011 at 08:33 PM
I think that concerns me the most...
Caitlin Mazzola (Editor) December 01, 2011 at 09:31 PM
That was a Fairfield resident's comment on a post I shared on the Fairfield Patch Facebook page regarding possibly cutting February break; not a Board of Ed member's statement.
paula tommins December 03, 2011 at 01:38 PM
I suggest giving the Friday off before President's Day as well as President's Day (Monday) and have the kids get out of school 3 days earlier, 4 if you do not count the legal holiday. This way there's at least a small, manageable break. I think it's especially important at the high school level were there is so much stress (let's hope the high school teachers have a heart and don't assign work over the holiday weekends!).
James McCusker December 05, 2011 at 03:32 PM
Haha, I am hardly a BOE member and I apoligize for my impulsive post on FB, I had no idea it would end up in this article. However I still say that there's a few really good reasons why changing the school break schedule would be a mistake. #1-CMTs- CT has the CMTs in March when you propose to hold the new break. Wilton tried this for a few years not too long ago, they combined Feb and April break into one week in March and it created havoc with the CMT testing. CT requires all schools in the state to hold the writing prompt on the same day, there's little to no flexibility in the schedule, regardless of when you schedule the off week in March it makes it very difficult to hold CMTs, the reguired make-up sessions and process it all back to the state in required time. 2. School sports schedules- This was another major issue in the Wilton experiement. Because no other schoools in the area had the same vaca schedule as Wilton it make scheduling Spring sports very, very difficult. 3. Really only three days are gained- Both the Feb break and the April break are hooked on already scheduled holidays- Presidents Day and Good Friday before Easter Sunday, so the two weeks only result in eight total school days and the week off in March would be five so only three days are to be gained by this major change. In the end Wilton changed back to a Feb and April break because the problems and issues raised by the one week in March were not worth it. We should learn from them.
Caitlin Mazzola (Editor) December 05, 2011 at 08:28 PM
James -- thank you for your thoughtful analysis to add to the conversation of moving school breaks. I apologize that you were caught unaware about your comment making it onto Patch, but it sure added color to the discussion!
Stacey December 05, 2011 at 09:45 PM
James --- April break is not necessarily connected to the Good Friday holiday. Usually, in fact, that's not the case ..... such as this coming April.
Gerard Speno December 07, 2011 at 03:57 PM
While You're waiting for vacation news Catch This year' tree lighting event on Fair TV Channel 78 Education everyday @ 7:30pm Check out other events ON Fair TV Channel 79 Such as Ribbon Cutting At FFLD Metro Center Latese BOS meeting and the League of Women Voters Brown Bag Lunch Featured Speaaker First Selectman Michael Tetreau Addressing his New Teerm' goals
Lynn December 13, 2011 at 12:04 PM
I vote for a 3-4 day weekend at Presidents one of those days being the already given holiday day, a week in March then a 3-4 day weekend at Easter one of those days being the already given good friday or easter Monday.
John Ray December 13, 2011 at 02:15 PM
My two cents. The district can derive large savings in February by not heating classrooms for a week. We burn the kids out with test prep (don't get me started) from the day they get back from holiday break. We would like them fresh (??) for those tests in March. But I do understand a shortened school year. We just moved from NYC schools and after the standardized tests were taken, real learning stopped. Again, don't get me started.
maria December 13, 2011 at 02:27 PM
AB- I don't feel the mother who said childcare was hard to oraganize during the week was looking for a free babysittng service. We as a family work full time and do not have the luxury of the warm vacations or ski resorts nor enough vaction time to cover all the off days during a school year either...so not EVERYONE in Fairfield lives the upper class life...and I can probably fairly assume she does not want her children in 90+ sweltering classrooms either....so maybe just think before you spew silly things...I'm just sayin'
Just One Teacher December 13, 2011 at 10:13 PM
I do not work for maintenance, but I really don't think they are just turning off the heat becuase students aren't here. Secretaries, custodians and admin are 12 month staff. I don't believe the town leaves them to freeze, not to mention the plumbing issues that come from allowing pipes to freeze.
Fairfield Resident December 13, 2011 at 10:17 PM
" I would have my children out earlier than swelter in a 90+ classroom!!!!" Wahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!

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