The proposed calendar for the 2013-2014 school year was unveiled when it received its “first reading” at last Wednesday’s (Dec. 19) Lawrence Township Board of Education meeting.
The calendar will not be official until it receives a second reading and approval at a subsequent board meeting.
The calendar includes 181 school days for students, with several more “professional development” training days for staff.
Several parents who attended last week’s meeting expressed displeasure about the disjointed nature of the first week of school as shown on the calendar – classes beginning for students on Wednesday, Sept. 4, but the schools being closed Thursday, Sept. 5 in observance of the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah, and then classes resuming on Friday, Sept. 6.
“It just seems ridiculous for kids to be off all summer, go to school a day, have off a day, and go to school a day,” said Gedney Road resident Andrea Pennington.
She suggested that the district not begin classes for students until Monday, Sept. 9, and instead use Sept. 4-6 as professional development days for staff where the district could bring in top-notch instructors to “do great classes for the teachers.”
“It is a messy calendar,” school board president Laura Waters conceded, noting that starting school on Sept. 4 is necessary in order to prevent the last week of school stretching too late into June when it can get very hot in classrooms that are not equipped with air conditioning.
“It’s a very difficult calendar. I think all the districts are struggling with it. And I think most are starting that earlier week,” Waters said.
“We struggled with this. This is a very difficult year with holidays,” agreed Rebecca Gold, the district’s director of personnel, professional development and administrative services. “We struggled with this. The problem becomes, you start going into conflict with the camps and people who pull their kids out for summer activities. Right now, with a calendar like this, the last day for students is June 20th. [In past years] we’ve had calendars where we’ve been out by the 15th or 16th.”
The calendar (a copy of which can be viewed in the Patch media box above) includes three emergency closing days, also known as snow days.
If those days are used, school will be in session on May 23, June 6 and June 13. If the emergency closing days are not used, the schools will be closed on those three days.