ROXBURY, NJ - Facing a blizzard of public criticism following its March 19 decision to extend the school year to make up for snow days and other emergency closures, the Roxbury School Board announced late Tuesday it will revisit the matter on March 26.
The board will conduct a special meeting at 7 p.m. that day at Lincoln-Roosevelt School in Succasunna, said board president Leo Coakley.
"The only agenda item is to rescind the motion from the 19th regarding putting the extra days at the end of the school year," he said. "So, (if the motion is approved) it would be back to the spring break situation as per the original school calendar."
On that calendar, the district said any emergency closing days beyond the five built into the 2017-2018 schedule would be made up during the April 2-through-April 6 spring break. But as this week's big snowstorm approached, with the district's eighth snow closure likely, the board voted 5-3 on March 19 to instead restore the full spring break and tack any make-up days at the end of the school year in June.
That decision prompted a whirlwind of perturbed parents who voiced their unhappiness on social media (including the TAPinto Robxury Facebook Page) and in texts and emails to school board members and school district administrators. "Basically a lot of people were saying there was not enough opportunity for public input the other night," Coakley said today.
He said most of the comments seemed to be in opposition to the scheduling change. "The emails we received, about 20, are all in that direction," Coakley said. "They point out some hardships and disadvantages caused by the switch to putting extra days at the end of the school year. So a couple of board members requested, and I agreed, we have a special meeting. The agenda is to rescind the motion and go back to taking the days away from spring break."
Coakley, and Roxbury Schools Superintendent Loretta Radulic, are urging people to take an online survey in which they will be asked their opinion on the matter. The survey is supposed to be posted to the school district's website early tomorrow.
But will the school board do whatever the majority of those taking the survey want? Maybe, maybe not, said Coakley.
"We're not locked in, but we certainly would consider (the results)," he said. "It's not a binding survey."
Roxbury School Board members Carol Scheneck, Dan Masi and Heather Champagne were the three who voted against the calendar change. Among the concerns Scheneck expressed was a fear that moving the three instructional days from April to the end of June would cause problems for high school students needing to take tests before the final days of school.
Roxbury School Board Member Richard Alexander, acknowledging there was no way to make everybody happy, said fewer students in total would be disadvantaged by moving the make-up days to June.