Education

BOE Discussing Calendar Changes Because of Federal Holidays

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BRIDGEWATER, NJ - The board of education is revising the 2016-2017 school calendar because of two recently determined changes, namely that they are adding one day of instructional time to the school year – and two options are currently on the table.

The calendar had already been approved, but a change has to be made because the new contract with the Bridgewater-Raritan Education Association requires 181 days of instructional time rather than the previous 180. The board of education will have to add a day to the calendar.

In addition, the board of education had originally approved a calendar that included a school day on Jan. 2, 2017. That has been named a federal holiday because Jan. 1 falls on a Sunday, so the calendar has to be changed to reflect that, and another day must be added to the school year.

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Interim superintendent Daniel Silvia said the board of education needs to be aware that the PARCC testing window is from March 27 through May 19, so there can be no days off in that time period, except for the previously planned spring break in April.

“We need that time, so you really want to try to stay away from March 27 to May 19 as far as any time off,” he said. “Spring break is spring break, that’s where it is.”

The first option was to add two days to the calendar at the end of the year. The calendar currently has the final day of school, and graduation, set for June 20. One idea discussed by the board would be to move graduation to June 22, and have school on June 21 and June 22.

The second option was to eliminate Feb. 17 as a day off during Presidents’ Weekend and add that day to the calendar, as well as moving graduation and the last day of school back only one day to June 21.

“It would be another day of instruction prior to PARCC,” board member Jill Gladstone said of adding Feb. 17 as a day of school. “I like the extra instructional day before PARCC, a lot of subjects are cramming in the curriculum to get it done before PARCC.”

“Plus there’s still a few weeks of winter left then,” she added.

Discussions included whether to move the first day of school up, or to require the elimination of spring break days if too many snow days are used.

The board of education also has to rethink its giveback and reclaimed days because Feb. 17 is included on both lists. In addition, Feb. 20 is included on the reclaimed days list, but that is a federal holiday and therefore can’t be named as an instructional day.

Discussion is expected to continue at the May 10 meeting, with a potential decision to be made.

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