Many Stonington families saw their April vacation plans thrown into question last week when the added three days to school calendar.
The board of education voted to keep school in session on Wednesday April 11, Thursday April 12 and Friday April 13, leaving Monday April 9 and Tuesday April 10 as the spring break. Those three days make up for days missed when of the 2011-2012 school year.
During the past few days Stonington School families voiced their general dismay over the decision on Stonington-Mystic Patch on the Stonington Board of Education Blog and on the blog of Superintendent Leeane Masterjoseph.
In Stonington-Mystic Patch’s unscientific poll more than 70 percent of respondents said they disagreed with the board of education’s decision.
“We planned our vacation based on the district’s written policy that they would not even be debating the removal of spring break until five days had been missed. That hasn’t happened,” .
Elle T referred to the a clause on the 2011-2012 calendar that stated April vacation could be in jeopardy if the schools lost more than five days of school before March 1.
Gail MacDonald, chairman of the board of education said that there is no written policy just notations.
“The calendar can be and is adjusted due to unforeseen circumstances,” MacDonald said. “When the storm closing occurred, the board did discuss it early in the school year. At that time, rather than eliminating holidays early in the school year (a move that also would have been very unpopular with many families), we tacked three days at the end of the school year. The board believed, at that point, that that decision would achieve both: keeping the graduation date fixed, as the board had promised to do, plus allow all students to have the number of days of attendance that are required by state law. As the year progressed, it became known that this was not accurate.”
Many Stonington residents however are questioning the fact that the decision puts the wants of one class above that of the larger school community.
“Why does the entire school district loose [three] days of vacation over a [Senior] Party deposit?,” Tom Lennon wrote on the boe blog. “With attendance down due to family vacations for the three days of April (10-20 percent) vacation will teachers introduce new material only to have it re-taught the following Monday?”
School officials have said that in previous years the board received comments that allowing graduation day to fluctuate at the end of the school year caused hardship for families.
Masterjospeh said that many of the details regarding the change to April vacation were being worked out and she would have more information later in the week. On her blog she stated that families unable to change their travel plans should go forward with them and she would work with staff to address their own conflicts for travel plans booked after March 1.
Both the Superintendent and the board of education said they knew the decision would not be widely popular and they will work to prevent a similar incidence from occurring during the 2012-2013 school year.