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School Board Axes 2013 Feb. Break

President's Day weekend will be a four-day weekend next school year.

 

is no more, at least for the 2012-2013 school year. But it did not go down without a fight.

After a narrow 5-3 vote ( chair Pamela Iacono abstained), the board on Tuesday moved to move the Jan. 18 professional development day to Friday, Feb. 15 and added Feb. 19, 20,21, and 22 as school days.

President’s Day weekend, normally the start of February vacation, will now be a four-day weekend, beginning Friday, Feb. 15; students will return on Tuesday, Feb. 21.

Superintendent of Schools David Title shared with the board the Norwalk, Monroe, Ridgefield, and Shelton schools have also done away with February vacation.

Board members Jessica Geber, Paul Fattibene, Sue Brand, Tim Kery, and John Convertito voted to eliminate the vacation days in favor of ending school early in June, a motion put forth by Convertito. Perry Liu, Jennifer Maxon Kennelly, and Philip Dwyer voted to keep February break in the calendar.

The 2012-2013 school year will now end on Wednesday, June 12, 2013 -- weather pending. With the loss of four February break days, there are now seven snow days built into the calendar. The calendar was approved; April break will remain in the third week of April, rather than being moved up to March.

A lively discussion preceded the vote. Here’s what the board and members of the public had to say on the February break matter:

In Favor of Cutting February Break

  • Sue Brand, board member: “My concern with having school at the end of the year is that not all our schools have air conditioning…the kids get terribly hot…this is not a devastating change. I’d like to try it for a year.” Brand added that she spoke to members of the Board of Health, who said that no studies have substantiated the notion that February break helps keep winter illnesses like the flu from spreading.
  • Christine Vitale, Board of Education representative: Vitale said the Dwight Elementary School PTA executive board voted in favor of eliminating February break prior to the Board of Education’s meeting. “No one wants their kids in school far into June,” she said, and “no one wants April break taken away due to snow days.”
  • Marc Patten, representative for District 7: “Change is good,” he said, adding that students come back from school in January only to lose days to snow and then have another vacation.
  • Doreen Herron: “All the schools have heat…not all the schools have air conditioning.”
  • Julie Gottlieb: Gottlieb said that, as a working parent, she always dreaded February break. “It was a completely hellacious time when you would have to figure out where to place your kid during February break,” she said

Opposed to Cutting February Break

  • Perry Liu, board member: “I think the calendar is perfect just the way it is. February break is a good vacation time. It’s good for people who are sick. If you take it away, there will still be absences.”
  • Jay Wolk: Wolk said he spoke to several custodians at the schools, who told him they look forward to February break as a time to clean the schools. It also gives time for sick students to get better, he said.
  • Anne Pasco, President of the Fairfield Education Association: Pasco said she’s observed the school calendar and various changes over the past four decades. “I’ve seen a March break -- it was a disaster.” Pasco said that families that want to go away in February will still go away and take their children out of school, and that week in February is “always the week we have a snow day; the week the flu has always struck…When a community is used to doing something and you change it, they continue to do that something.”
  • Sue Dow, former Board of Education member: Dow argued that students -- especially high school student bogged down by AP classes and numerous extracurricular activities -- are burnt out by February and need the break. The teachers are burnt out as well, she added.

What’s your take on the board’s vote?

vally January 06, 2012 at 04:05 PM
This is incredible -- I cannot believe how long this discussion has gone on. The facts are this -- EVERY year in November the Board is presented with the following school year's calendar, and then at the next BoE meeting the Board votes on that calendar. There was no hidden agenda. Some Board members reached out to the public via Facebook to ask for input. This online newspaper ran an article on the subject. PTAs discussed the issue as well. Between November 22 and December 13 the public was given the opportunity to contact the Board with their questions, views and concerns. The Board then discussed the calendar and voted. If this decision proves to be a poor one, the Board can revisit it each and every year in November/December when they discuss and vote on the next year's calendar.
Just One Teacher January 06, 2012 at 08:35 PM
Melioro, #1 February break is NOT GONE. It was shortened. #2 The number of consecutive days does matter. I have stated in an earlier post that a four day weekend should be sufficient for anyone to unwind unless that person’s daily grind is excessive. If that is the case, then that person should be looking at how much is on their plate, not how many consecutive days off they get. #3 You insult me without reading all my posts or at very least choosing to ignore my prior posts. Going by your example, should I be teaching my students it is acceptable practice to accuse an opponent his/her view is too simple and then counter with the most extreme exaggerations I can think off? Your example about spreading two weeks over an entire year is absurd. #4 Thousands of schools have no summer break. There are numerous studies and testimonials on the pros and cons of year round schooling. This district has decided such a system is not the right fit here, so it is moot.
Just One Teacher January 06, 2012 at 08:57 PM
You could have counted these yourself, but I will make this very easy for you. In 11-12 calendar after holiday break we have: 8 days on and then 4 off, 24 on then 9 off, 29 then 3, 5 then 9, 25 then 3, and 15 till summer 12-13 calendar: 13 then 3, 18 then 4, 28 then 3, 5 then 9, 25 then 3, and 13 till summer. Total days off (not including regular weekends) - 11-12: 3 single days, 3 triple days, 2 4 day weekends, 2 9 day, and 1 10 day break 12-13: 2 single days, 6 3 day weekends, 2 four day, 1 9 day, and 1 11 day break. No matter how I look at this I just don't see the big deal. When I look at the numbers I do not see a drastic change. On that note I will be wasting no more time on this topic.
Michele Modugno January 06, 2012 at 09:22 PM
Not all PTA's discussed this issue...many parents were not aware of the change until the last minute. The only way I learned about it is from Facebook, and let's not make the assumption that all parents are on Facebook as many are not. I think a "survey monkey" survey which has been employed before, sent out to parents via the email alert system which is in place would have been a much better idea. More parents would have felt more involved in the process of making their thoughts known!
momof3 January 06, 2012 at 09:53 PM
Michele--maybe you should address this issue with your PTA--why wasn't it discussed? Board of Ed asked PTA for input. Agenda for meetings are emailed out to PTA presidents and Board of Education Reps. It isn't as though PTAs didn't know about it. Can't fault the Board of Ed for school PTAs not thinking this was an important enough issue to address or at least alert parents to. This issue was on Facebook, in paper, on websites such as this.

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