BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – Sometimes you have to be creative when giving what some might construe as “bad news.”
Superintendent of Schools Judith Rattner did that Thursday, April 5, when she told members of the public that the district would be open on Saturday, April 21, to make up for the April 2 snow day – the seventh snow day this year.
Rattner held up a book, “A Fine, Fine School” by Sharon Creech, and told everyone it was one of her favorites and she often pulled it out when visiting Mary Kay McMillin Early Childhood Center. She said the plot line of the book is that the school’s principal liked his school so much that he decided to hold school on Saturdays, in the summer and, possibly at night. Rattner said the children often asked her, “You wouldn’t do that, would you, Mrs. Rattner?” She would reassure them that she would not do that except in exceptional circumstances.
Those circumstances have happened this year, and despite having done a lot of research to find another day to make up the snow day, she concluded Saturday, April 21, was the best one for the district. There will be an early dismissal that day, she said.
When the calendar was built for this school year, four “snow days” were included, she said. Administrators even took into consideration the unlikely event that there could be eight snow days before the spring break without causing any disruption to the rest of the school year.
Instead, there were six snow days before spring break, so Monday and Tuesday of spring break week were turned into make-up days. Then came Monday, April 2, when another six or so inches of snow were forecast. That was the first day back to school after spring break, so except for Memorial Day, there were no more days off this year.
There were a number of constraints to what options Rattner had – graduation day is set, as is middle school graduation. Project Graduation, the drug and alcohol-free celebration following graduation, is set and reservations for the venue are made one year in advance.
“It’s not an ideal situation,” she said, but neither are any of the other days she could have chosen.
Next year spring break is April 15-19, she said, and she will look at the calendar to see if extra snow days are needed next year.
April is the beginning of a focus on the arts in all the district schools. The superintendent discusses the various arts-related events in the video, above, beginning with Peter Pan, the musical, which concludes on Sunday. There is also an art show at Governor Livingston High School for those who attend the musical to enjoy.
There will be various small ensemble concerts as well as choral programs at the district schools in the upcoming months.