FAIRFIELD, Conn. – It’s now less likely that Hurricane Sandy will affect April vacation, but a snowy winter could keep Fairfield Public Schools in session as late as June 28.
Hurricane Sandy canceled six school days in Fairfield this year, which reached the limit set by the Board of Education when they set their calendar last winter. The board eliminated February vacation from the 2012-2013 school year, meaning that any excess days would have come out of April’s break.
After Sandy, Fairfield’s current last day of school is June 21. State law allows districts to keep schools open as late as June 30, or in the case of 2013, June 28. The Board of Education voted 6-3 to add five more backup days in June. That means that any snow days will add one more day to the end of the year for the first five cancellations. April vacation will stay intact unless Fairfield cancels six or more days of school.
“The kids are going to have to go and the teachers are going to have to teach from, basically, January to July without a break,” school board Vice Chair Pamela Iacono said of the possibility of canceling days of spring vacation. “And I just don’t necessarily think that’s healthy.”
Schools Superintendent David Title also offered to move a professional development day for teachers from Feb. 15 to the end of the year, which would keep teachers in school an extra day but let students out a day early. He said that the day wouldn’t have much value was training for teachers, since there would be no class time after it.
Another possibility was eliminating one of the three holidays the school board is allowed to cancel. State law protects holidays in December and January, but Presidents Day (Feb. 18), Good Friday (March 29) and Memorial Day (May 27) could all technically be school days. The board decided not to touch any of those.
Some school board members suggested trimming the length of the school year itself. Fairfield is currently set to hold 182 days of classes, two more than the state’s minimum. The three dissenting votes on the final decision—Perry Liu, John Convertito and Jennifer Maxon-Kennelly — all suggested cutting two days before adding more.
But Title said that since teachers are contractually required to teach 182 days, those two days were “already paid for.”
“This whole situation’s not good,” Title said. “There’s no great solution here. It’s kind of the lesser of two or three evils.”
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