The Board of Education may already have approved its school calendar for the 2013-14 school year, but concerns about a late final day in June, the need to respond to emergencies such as Hurricane Sandy and other questions about potential school holidays are prompting another look by school officials.
"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.
Markarian said he wanted to share with parents why changes to our 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 and in 2014-15 the last day is June 24."
One change being considered is to start school a little earlier in the fall, so the last day can be scheduled earlier the following June, school officials said during discussions at previous board meetings.
Markarian's email said there have been requests to add holidays to the school calendar.
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. Some of those who addressed the board added that they would like their children to feel their religion and culture is respected by school officials and their peers.
Board members have been concerned about late last day of school
Already in the fall, Board Member Beverly Cwerner had reported 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.
She 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.
At previous meetings, the board already has been working on a policy that would allow the school district to make modifications to the next year's school calendar during this year as long as those changes are made by March 1 of the previous school year.
"The Board will likely finalize this policy change at its January 28, 2013 meeting," Markarian said. Afterward, the superintendent said changes to the 2013-14 policy are possible, as long as those changes are made by March 1, 2013. That school board meeting is scheduled to be held at 7 p.m. next Monday, at the William Annin Middle School, according to the school website.
Cwerner also said board members and school officials planning future school calendar would like to try to come up with a way to try to determine the community's values on what they want in the school calendar.
Survey coming about school calendar, schools superintendent says
"To date, the Board of Education has received some input from the public on the school calendar issue," Markarian said, but the board's policy committee "needs your help to collect more data," he said in the email to parents.
For that reason, Markarian asked parents to keep an eye out for a survey about the school calendar that will be disseminated in the coming weeks.