Fairfield School Board Extends School Year, Weather Pending

The board voted to tack on up to five additional makeup days to the end of the school year. After the six days lost due to Hurricane Sandy, the last day of school is currently set for Friday, June 21.

The Fairfield Board of Education voted Tuesday to extend the 2012-2013 school year beyond the current end date of Friday, June 21 to make up for a maximum of five additional no-school days.

Any additional no-school days beyond those five will be made up during April break, beginning on Monday, April 15.

The proposal to add the days to the end of the year was put forth in response to the six school days lost during and after Hurricane Sandy.

"I think it's the best solution for us," Pamela Iacono, who was elected vice chair at Tuesday's meeting, said.

Iacono said that after the board chose to cut the 2013 February break last year, they should have thought to safeguard April break in the event of excessive no-school days -- and extending the school year is a way to do that.

Any makeup days following June 21 will not affect high school graduations, Superintendent of Schools Dr. David Title added. Graduation is scheduled for Thursday, June 20. As long as the date falls after the 185th day since the school year began (which, in this case, it does), graduation can remain as scheduled, regardless if the school year is extended five days, to June 28.

The board discussed other options that would help preserve April break:

  • The school board could have chosen to hold school on the professional development day scheduled for Friday, Feb. 15, and extended the school year for up to four days instead of five;
  • The board could choose to hold school on any legal holiday not falling during the months of December or January. Those options include Presidents' Day (Monday, Feb. 18), Good Friday  (March 29), and Memorial Day (May 27).
  • The board could cut Fairfield's planned and budgeted 182-day school year to the statutory 180 days, which Title said would be "sub-optimal."

Members Perry Liu and John Convertito both said that the school year should remain as scheduled and -- if need be -- the next five no-school days should be made up during April break.

"The reason we changed the calendar last year was so the students and staff would not be going into that last week of June," Convertito said, recalling how hot it was during the Class of 2012's late-June high school graduation ceremonies. He said he would choose to reduce the school year from 182 days to 180.

Resident Suzanne Miska of Ryegate Road told the board that she didn't see why "we can't go before the state" to get the days lost due to Sandy pardoned.

According to a memo from Title to the school board, Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor "did not seem receptive" to the idea that the State Board of Education could waive the mandated 180-day requirement, and it "would not be prudent to count on such relief."

The board voted to extend the school year 6-3. Newly elected Chairman Philip Dwyer, Iacono, Jessica Gerber, Paul Fattibene, Tim Kery, and Sue Brand voted in favor; Convertito, Liu, and Jennifer Maxon Kennelly opposed the motion.

R. Ludlowe November 29, 2012 at 04:34 PM
Lots of generalizations here. Not sure what your goal is or how it relates to this calendar issue.
Alsounimpressed November 29, 2012 at 05:32 PM
Unimpressed, on the BOE you left out the retired old grandpa with no kids in the system for a couple decades now and the househusband, just sayin'. wouldn't want you to discriminate. For me, I like Feb break too so I can surf at my house in Maui. Right on dude. Lets give Gramps and crew a hi-five!
R. Ludlowe November 29, 2012 at 06:18 PM
After the first round, the score is: Ugh: 1 - unimpressed: 0
un-impressed November 29, 2012 at 08:34 PM
OK Ugh, let me address your issues - 1. Having a great job becasue I worked hard to get it does not make me entitled, rather desrving. I hope that's not a mantra you sing around any children about hard working people. I give plenty away and am frugal so my conscience is clear - I don't feel the need to compete and let's not make this personal, you don't know the first thing about me or anyone else on this blog. Why would I want to be on the board I don't pretend to know the first thing about the education system, I just want a break when there is snow. 2. Both the US and CT State Department of Education rank the schools, not me. 3. I regret not being able to afford private school and refuse to go into debt so I can take a ski vacation. I also regret not owning a pool or belonging to a country club or a fancy car but I don't lash out at those who do. I cannot afford to go at Christmas it's the most expensive time, and clearly you don't engage in the sport if you think there is snow the 3rd week of April in Vermont - maybe California on a good year. I, like you am entitled to do whatever I want for my vacation - you are awfully critical and I am wondering why.....
Ugh November 29, 2012 at 09:27 PM
My bad. Please substitute "entitled" for "deserving of your ski trip". You came on the board throwing stones at the "qualified" BOE and complaining about how you can't take your ski trip because of them. How is one not supposed to be critical of that?! I spent 22 years living in Vermont. There is snow on some of the slopes in April. Just need to know which ones. Try Killington, they are open to the end of April. You will have the slopes almost to your own. But then again, maybe we shouldn't have school in February so that you can have your ski vacation? As long as that is most convenient for you, of course.
un-impressed November 29, 2012 at 09:28 PM
Since you insist on name calling this is no longer a productive conversation and so I'm going to have to bail, I actually work at my job. You seem bitter, maybe you were out in the cold in Vermont too long? I feel sorry for you and it seems you feel sorry for yourself - let me guess, you voted for Obama ?
factsstraight November 29, 2012 at 09:38 PM
We are actually 30 in the rankings, and if you look at the other districts ranked higher you will see that they are all significantly smaller than ours -- in fact we are the highest-ranked school district in the state with more than 10,000 students. Greenwich is the next largest, at just under 9000 (ranked 40), and West Hartford, with over 10,000 is next, ranked at 50. Ridgefield, Weston and Wilton do not have February break; only 3 or 4 day weekends as we do. Many of the other districts you mention start school earlier in August.
Ugh November 29, 2012 at 09:42 PM
When did I call you a name? I have nothing to be bitter about. Vermont was definitely cold but gave me a different perspective than some around this area. I would never whine about not being to go on a ski trip in February or belittle volunteers giving of their own free time who made a decision that didn't fit my personal lifestyle. Not sure what voting for president has to do with this. Of course I didn't vote for Obama. All of his followers are uneducated whiners who use unnecessary hyphens in their names.
AB November 29, 2012 at 09:43 PM
I really feel sorry for the teachers and students who lost six days of quality teaching time in preparation for the CMTs and CAPT tests. These wonderful teachers now have to find a way to make up six days (and possibly more with the impending winter) to prepare our children. The Board of Ed. could have had an meeting and decide to allow students in school on Vet's Day and also give up the PD in February and allow teachers go in June. To the parent who is gung ho about her ski trip. There are three days in January and Four days in February- go then. If you decide to pull your kids out for the week,,have fun! It's your choice because if Fairfield cuts Spring Break many of us will be in the same boat as you but remember, CMTs are in March and your children will miss quality teaching time!!! Also, make sure you read the new guidelines on unexcused absences. Worth reading!!!
Brian November 30, 2012 at 11:05 AM
Can we jettison the students who can't learn; or the posters who can't punctuate; or the candidates who can't understand science....
Richard Standish FFLD November 30, 2012 at 11:26 AM
john mitola, the board gets no breaks. They teach our children, they get one shot at it and I think they stink at it. Dollar per student costs are not returning properly educated children. Grade scores stink, the classrooms and hallway have become nothing more than fashion shows for the kids to upstage eachother. Teachers and counslers do nothing to control this rediculous dress. My wife and I home school our children. Our oldest is now at William and Mary on a full scholarship. Yes we are able to home school because we decided to sacrifice for our children. We dont drive new cars and I work two jobs. We live well below our means and are happy to do it for our children.
Stacey November 30, 2012 at 03:26 PM
Serious question: How do so many schools in the U.S. get way with having practically 3 months off for summer break, one week at Thanksgiving, 2 weeks at Christmas, and a spring break? Seeking only serious responses.
R. Ludlowe November 30, 2012 at 04:04 PM
serious follow up question: can you cite any examples? I dont know of any [public] primary or secondary schools that are off for 3 months in the summer. I also dont know of any [public] schools with a 2 week holiday break. What you describe sounds more like a private school or college schedule.
Stacey November 30, 2012 at 04:13 PM
No, they're definitely public schools --- not local in CT. Many of my friends around the country, particularly in the Midwest and South, have schedules like these. They finish the school year before Memorial Day and do not return until mid/late August. For the upcoming holiday vacation, they are off from Dec. 21 to Jan. 7th. I am just curious as to how they seem to have so many fewer school days. I wonder if their school days are longer?
Ugh November 30, 2012 at 04:14 PM
To follow up on R. Ludlowe, Fairfield barely gets 2 months in the summer, has 2 days at Thanksgiving, 1 week and 2 days at Christmas, and 1 week in the spring. Citing examples would be good as suggested!
Ugh November 30, 2012 at 04:15 PM
Yes, school days are typically longer in those areas.
R. Ludlowe November 30, 2012 at 05:20 PM
would still love to know where and what the specific school systems are. Not doubting you, just curious. I have a friend that lives in Alabama. He was telling me how low his property taxes are (unbelievably). WHen I told him how jealous I was, he responded by saying that there [was] a reason that Alabama was ranked 48th in overall education. The grass is sometimes greener...
doresearch November 30, 2012 at 05:47 PM
It is easy to do research online. A quick perusal of southern and midwestern states shows that many start school earlier in August. They do not have any Jewish holidays off in the Fall, nor do they have Good Friday off in the Spring. They do not have Election Day or Veterans Day off and they only have one break in March, as opposed to one in February and one in April. This wouldn't pertain to midwestern schools, but southern schools would most likely not have many, if any snow days.
Stacey November 30, 2012 at 08:42 PM
This is my friend's school district's calendar. She lives in a very nice suburb of Houston, TX: Student Days: •1st Semester Begins Aug. 27, 2012 •1st Semester Ends Dec. 21, 2012 •1st Semester 78 Days •2nd Semester Begins Jan. 8, 2013 •2nd Semester Ends June 6, 2013 •2nd Semester 99 Days Student/Teacher Holidays: • Sept. 3, 2012 • Nov. 19-23, 2012 • Dec. 24, 2012 - Jan. 4, 2013 • Mar.11-15, 2013 • March 29, 2013 • May 27, 2013 Teacher In-Service/ Student Holiday: • Aug. 21-23, 2012 • District Rally - Aug. 23, 2012 • Sept. 19, 2012 • Jan. 7, 2013 • Jan. 21, 2013 • Feb. 18, 2013 Teacher Work Day/ Student Holiday: • Aug. 24, 2012 • June 7, 2013
Brian November 30, 2012 at 10:15 PM
If you child got into that university, he probably would have even if going to a public school. It's in the jeans(ha!)
Stacey November 30, 2012 at 10:39 PM
Oh, and as for not missing school due to snow in the South, that may be true; but they do have hurricanes. My friend's children missed 2.5 weeks of school due to a hurricane and were not required to make up a single day.
Richard Standish FFLD November 30, 2012 at 11:25 PM
Thanks for the good laugh Brian. Doesn't change my mind on the state of Fairfield public schools. Jump into the jean/gene pool.
R. Ludlowe December 01, 2012 at 01:43 AM
i think that's sad. 12+ days missed of school? I would want my kids to get that time with their teachers.
Marnie Kruse December 01, 2012 at 02:20 AM
Stacey - my nephew in Santa Fe - finished school May 22, 2012 and started again om August 15, 2012. Had W,TH and F off for Thanksgiving, and will have two full weeks off at Christmas. Week off in April. All the legal holidays off, and several teacher in-service days. Every Friday dismissal at 12:40. Not one snow day is made up. He is also thriving in a gifted program. PUBLIC school.
R. Ludlowe December 01, 2012 at 03:25 AM
Is the argument that our kids are in school too much and you'd rather see less school time? I'm not sure what you are getting at.
Brian December 01, 2012 at 11:04 AM
@Resident, Calendar is a framework so others can build their schedules around it. Many comments here echo those of the 80's when I was first transplanted here. Hasn't changed. Fairfield is a very religious town. Good Friday, Roshashanna, Yom Kippur? You've got to be kidding. You didn't include Memorial Day; is this because some of the working world has this day off? Veteran's Day, for a brief time, let teachers and students participate in town-wide programs honoring vets. Now it's a shopping day. Before MLK day became a holiday, it too was useful to inform students as to Dr. King's message for humanity. From world wide events, this can't be too important either. Does the working world celebrate this day too? Friday afternoon PD's? Do members of the working world have their mandated PD on Fridays? If not, why? Extend the summer break for who? Where do these grandparents live, Neptune? I believe your last, I hope, rhetorical question, misses a target. Keep looking.
Marnie Kruse December 01, 2012 at 11:25 AM
R. Ludlowe - I am not arguing our kids are school too much, just responding to your post from 11:04 on Friday re: schools with three month summer vacations and two weeks off at Christmas. Honestly, I don't know what magic # of school days is ideal. My nephew's teachers have less time to cover the curriculum. I forgot to ask my sister if they have state testing. As for half day Fridays, I know the teachers collaborate and discuss curriculum for the following week, which I think would absolutely benefit the kids. Their M - TH hours are longer than ours, 7:50 to 3:10.
Brian December 01, 2012 at 11:51 AM
Don't all states have test thanks to No Child and now Race? Where's the argument for Saturday classes? And please, let's not hear about how many hs kids work. I'm sure their employers wouldn't mind them getting a little more training (more of which should be provided, but another day for that) and provide openings for some of the unemployed in town who want to work a Saturday.
fatmancarruthers December 02, 2012 at 01:27 PM
Pull your kids out of school if you dont like it. Protest! Hell no we wont go! Were here, were queer, were not going anywhere! Not everybody can have things personally catered to their needs. You people make me vomit with your petty compliants
Fairfield Parent December 05, 2012 at 05:51 PM
RLudlow - my comments were relevant as kids need a break from bad teachers and bad teachers, which do exist need a break from their kids....too much togetherness is not good. Our kids spend more time at school than home with adults who may or may not be in their court - everyone needs some "fresh air" and separation every few months. Kids brains do better when they have a chance to rejuvenate. And hopefully smart parents don't let their kids sit in front of the TV/computer/iPhone for that time off...a little (an hour or 2 is fine..) the idea is to get out and do something that expands the brain! By the way, when my first child was born I noticed her eyes glaze at the TV at 8 weeks. I promptly shut off the TV in our home, and there was no TV until she was 3. Ironically the Pediatricians came out with a study to turn TV and devices off until age 2. So I guess I might have some good instincts :)


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