The Board of Education failed to approve a 2013-14 school year calendar at Monday night’s meeting after three different calendar versions led to tie votes.
The versions were to have no school on Veterans Day and Columbus Day and have a half day on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving (as proposed by the school system’s calendar committee and supported by School Supt. James C. Agostine); to have school on Veterans Day and Columbus Day and a half day on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving; and to have school on Veterans Day and a half day on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.
Votes on the three proposals ended in 4-4 ties, with Chairman Darrell Trump absent. The BOE is likely to vote again on the calendar for the upcoming school year at its meeting in two weeks.
The next school year should begin Tuesday, Aug. 27 for students, with extended breaks in late December and mid-April. Under the committee’s proposed calendar, the last school day would be June 11, 2014.
‘Tightening up the calendar’
BOE Secretary Mark Hughes offered a motion to amend the proposed calendar by having school on Veterans Day and Columbus Day but no school on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving (school officials have proposed a half day for that Wednesday).
“We should consider tightening up the calendar so the kids are in school more at the beginning of the year,” Hughes said.
He said the schedule he favored would provide more flexibility if there was to be a lot of snow days or other weather issues, and would end the school year earlier. As for the Wednesday before the two-day Thanksgiving break, Hughes said he was suggesting it be a day off “based on feedback from parents.”
Hughes’ motion never was voted on directly, however, as other two other versions were offered as amendments.
Costs extra on those two days
Agostine said having school on holidays such as Columbus Day and Veterans Day would cost the district $22,000 to $23,000 extra per day, based on union contracts with custodians and secretaries.
He said he had thought the consensus was to wait at least another school year to possibly plan to have school on those two days, based on trying to change employee union contracts during the labor negotiations now taking place.
BOE members Lee Reynolds Crouch and Kelly Plunkett said they were concerned about the added cost to the system for having school on Columbus Day and Veterans Day. Crouch said the amount involved in keeping the schools open both days could pay for a teacher’s salary.
Assemblies to highlight meaning
BOE Vice Chairman Donna Lane said she likes the idea of having school on Veterans Day because it would enable students to learn more about the meaning of the holiday through assemblies featuring veterans as speakers. Otherwise, for some students, the holiday becomes a “just a day we can stay in our pajamas,” she said.
Lane said many nearby school systems now are open on Veterans Day, and the expense involved seemed reasonable.
Agostine said schools can have such assemblies on the school day before Veterans Day. This year, Veterans Day on Nov. 11 falls on a Monday.
Wait another year
BOE member George A. King III favored waiting another school year, as suggested by Agostine, before possibly keeping schools open on Columbus Day or Veterans Day. That would allow the district to “adequately plan” for it, King said.
BOE member Jeffrey Guttman agreed. While meeting on the two days may be a good idea, Guttman said, he wanted to wait “to see if we can offset the cost.”
After two failed votes, BOE member Alan Vaglivelo suggested a compromise calendar “to meet in the middle” by having school on Veterans Day and a half day on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. That version then also failed due to a tie vote.