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.