Moms Talk: Should School Start Earlier Next Fall?
Bernards Twp. school board to discuss changes to school calendars — including possible deletions and additions — for next two years.
The Bernards Board of Education has always planned well in advance — the school calendars for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years already have been approved — but questions that have arisen this year about when students should begin, end and have holidays off from school mean that those calendars will be re-examined — and possibly changed.
"Please be advised that changes to the 2013-14 calendar may be coming," Bernards schools superintendent Nick Markarian said in a special "Friday Folder" announcement to parents last Friday.
Among one of the potential changes for both upcoming school years: starting school earlier to end school sooner in June.
Markarian said he wanted to share with parents why changes to the school calendar are being considered. "Of particular concern, is the fact that the district’s current practice is creating calendars where the last day of school is very late in June. The last day of school for students this year and next is June 26th," he said. In the current version of the 2014-15 school calendar, the last day is June 24.
In a public report at a school board meeting last fall, Board Member Beverly Cwerner had said that the board's policy committee had been planning to re-examine future school calendars, with a focus on the late final day of school each June.
Some complaints have been logged that such late dates interfere with summer jobs or other important events that students have scheduled over the summer, Cwerner said in October. That included college orientations, special trips and projects and other scheduled dates in students' lives.
Add to that concern, the need to build into the calendar the ability to respond to emergencies such as Hurricane Sandy and other questions about potential school holidays are prompting another look by school officials.
For more than a year, parents have made comments and presented petitions to the school board asking that the Indian festival of Diwali be made a day off from school so their children could celebrate their holiday without worrying about homework and makeup classwork the next day.
Cwerner said that alternatives to be examined include consolidating breaks or starting earlier in September. Unlike many school districts, Bernards Township has two full-week holidays in the second half of the school year, after winter break.
In the neighboring Somerset Hills school district, the school board approved a calendar on Wednesday night with only one week off from school in spring 2013 — in which school begins on Sept. 5 and still gets out on June 19. That calendar also includes three built-in snow days in April and May, with specifications what other makeup days would be scheduled if school is called off on additional days.
So what do you think?
Is it worth giving up that last leisurely Labor Day weekend and then (as has been the case) waiting until the second day after the holiday so students can return to school refreshed and ready to go?
Or do you think that getting in a few days — or even an extra day or so — right before or after Labor Day would let students get out at a more reasonable time in June?
Do you care if your student(s) get out earlier in June? Or are you happy to have them occupied for an extra week or so at that time of year?
Has the late June dismissal date ever interfered with a trip or plans for your family? Or caused problems with a summer job or college plans?
Do you really want to hold onto two full weeklong vacations? Or is that someplace you think the school board might trim a few days, or the whole week?
Would you rather have a few extra holidays and make the day(s) up somewhere else?
Let us know in the comments section below and/or answer our poll?
This is a decision that will affect many families, and the Board of Education also is planning a way to gather input from the school community.