During the Island Trees School District’s Board of Education work session on Wednesday evening, members and other school officials discussed the possible changes of the 2011-12 school year calendar.
“We basically have to make up how to fit the school calendar in with snow days and all the others things,” said Superintendent Charles Murphy. “The teaching staff wanted to add an extra day at the end so that they could have the day before Thanksgiving as one of the recess days.”
The schools are closed half of that week for conferences, giving the students only two days of instruction. Regularly, as in many other districts, students are required to attend school for the three weekdays before the Thanksgiving holiday.
According to the superintendent, the teachers want to institute this new recess day for the upcoming calendar, but he said that it needed to be taken to the board for a vote.
“It is the same thing either way,” board member George Storm said. “If you have a day off before Thanksgiving, you are adding it on in the end.”
If this concession were granted, the board would have to have the students begin the school year a day earlier in September. The board explained that whether the students begin on the Tuesday or Wednesday after Labor Day makes no difference in the total number of school days because it is always added back into the calendar at some point.
“The day before a holiday they have early dismissal,” Board of Education President Patricia Mahon said. “That gives them the break.”
Though the state requires only 180 compulsory days of school, currently the Island Trees school calendar consists of 182 days, with two built-in snow days. If these are used, predetermined recesses are taken back and students have to attend classes on those designated days to meet the district’s quota.
After debating about the issues amongst themselves, board members agreed that is wasn’t feasible to have the children in school for only one day during the week in question.
“Are we going to have the week before Easter or Christmas off?” Mahon said. “Come on, enough is enough.”
Ultimately, it was agreed upon that this issue comes down to perception within the community. The calendar always includes roughly the same number of days and built-in snow days, but changing recesses and adding days on the end of school just alters the community's assessment of the calendar.
In the end, the Board of Education decided not to move the extra recess day before Thanksgiving. Next year’s school calendar will hold a conference day on the Tuesday after Labor Day and begin classroom instruction on Wednesday. This is how the school year calendar has been set up for the majority of the last 15 years.
“We will just take a traditional calendar,” Murphy said.
This topic will be officially addressed in a resolution at the next Board of Education meeting on Jan. 26 at 7:30 p.m. at the Karopczyc School.
The board also addressed issues pertaining to the approval of a personal report, which will also be discussed at the monthly Board of Education meeting next week.