New school calendar has days off on Columbus, Veterans Days

The Board of Education has approved a 2013-14 school year calendar that includes days off on Columbus Day and Veterans Day and a half day on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

The 5-2 vote ended a stalemate that had led to two tie votes at the previous BOE meeting, when one member was absent. Two members were absent at the most recent meeting. Limited discussion took place before the vote was taken.

The previous debate had centered on whether to have school on Columbus Day and Veterans Day, two holidays that not all school systems take off anymore, as well as whether to have a full day or half day off on the Wednesday before the two-day Thanksgiving break.

The calendar approved by the BOE is the one recommended by the school district’s Calendar Committee.

The upcoming school year should begin Tuesday, Aug. 27, for students, with extended breaks in late December and mid-April. The tentative last school day would be June 11, 2014.

According to the new calendar, teachers will report to work Aug. 22, with three days of professional development (training) before students return. Teachers would have two other professional development days during the school year when classes would not meet, including on Election Day.


Financial impact was factor

At the Tuesday meeting, BOE member Mark Antinozzi said he supported the recommended calendar because School Supt. James C. Agostine had pointed out that having school on Columbus Day and Veterans Day would cost up to $23,000 extra per day due to labor contracts with two employee unions (custodians and secretaries).

Antinozzi said the “monetary expense” of having school on one or two of those days concerned him,  and — as Agostine had noted — perhaps the issue should be revisited in the following school year calendar after the issue is broached during contract negotiations with the two unions.

Proponents of having school on Columbus Day and Veterans Day supported having assemblies or lessons on those days that highlighted the meaning of the holidays. They said meeting on those days would provide more flexibility in case inclement weather led to multiple other school day cancellations during the academic year. They also said it would lead to few interruptions near the start of the school year and noted more schools systems are holding classes on these two days.

Opponents of taking the two days off mostly focused on the financial impact, emphasizing the funds would be better spent on other educational needs.

Voting in favor of the approved calendar were Antinozzi, Lee Reynolds Crouch, Kelly Plunkett, Chairman Darrell Trump and Alan Vaglivelo. Voting in opposition were Mark Hughes and Donna Lane. Absent were Jeff Guttman and George A. King III.


Highlights of the 2013-14 calendar

Aug. 22, 23 and 26: Teacher/staff professional development days

Aug. 27: First day of school

Sept. 2: Labor Day (no school)

Sept. 5: Rosh Hashanah (no school)

Oct. 14: Columbus Day (no school)

Nov. 5: Election Day (no school for students but professional development day for teachers/staff)

Nov. 11: Veterans Day (no school)

Nov. 27-29: Thanksgiving recess (early dismissal Wednesday, and no school Thursday and Friday)

Dec. 23-Jan. 1: Winter recess and New Year’s Day (last day before break is Friday, Dec. 20; return to school on Thursday, Jan. 2)

Jan. 20: Martin Luther King Day (no school)

Feb. 17 and 18: Mid-winter recess (Monday and Tuesday off for Presidents Day)

April 14-18: Spring recess

April 21: No school for students but professional development day for teachers/staff (being a Monday, adds an extra day off for students to the spring recess)

May 26: Memorial Day (no school)

June 11: Last day of school


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