Parents, staff members and Ridge High School juniors and seniors will be asked to fill out an email survey in the next week or so asking questions about potential changes to the school year and beyond, including whether they feel the school year should begin and end earlier.
The Bernards Board of Education approved the survey at Monday night's meeting, after it had been devised by the board's policy committee and reviewed by all board members.
Schools Superintendent Nick Markarian said after the meeting that the survey is likely to be sent out by email on Tuesday, with a deadline of about Feb. 5 for filing the answers.
Besides start and end date, school officials said the survey will ask whether the respondents would like to maintain both of the full-week vacations that Bernards Schools traditionally have had both in February and April. Many other school districts have only one week off from school in the spring.
The survey also will address such issues as days off for other holidays.be scheduled as a day off from school.
Possible revisions to next year's school calendar at Feb. 11 meeting
Markarian said he may present a draft of a revised school calendar by the Feb. 11 meeting.
A new policy given final approval by the school board on Monday allows the Board of Education to change the following year's school calendar as long as those changes are made by March 1 of the previous year.
School Board Member Beverly Cwerner, who discussed the survey as part of the board's policy committee report, said that the surveys will be one source of input as part of the process for setting future school calendars.
"We also have to look at operational needs of the district," along with union contracts for staff, Cwerner said.
The policy approved Monday and future calendars also would be designed to include the ability for the school district to respond to extraordinary circumstances, Cwerner said.
Markarian said the survey for parents will include eight questions, including six multiple choice questions and two asking for open-ended answers.
Students will receive surveys with only four questions, one open ended, the superintendent said. He said only the juniors and seniors would be surveyed because they had gone through the school system and knew best how the calendar worked for them.
The invitation will be sent to the guardian email address that is maintained in the district’s student information management system, Markarian said. He said the district has about 3,000 email addresses for children, and each household will receive one survey even if they have multiple students in township schools..
The email come from the Bernards Township School District with the subject line, SUBJECT - School Calendar Survey, Markarian said in an email to parents last Friday. He asked that parents do not delete the email if they want to complete the survey, which he said is anonymous.
The student survey will be sent to the email address that is maintained in the District’s college application database, Naviance.
"We look forward to collecting this valuable input from our school community," Markarian said.
School officials, including Markarian in a previous email, said that a particular concern a pattern of school 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.