New Canaan School Board Weighs Changes To Calendars

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New Canaan Schools Superintendent Mary Kolek, left, and Board of Education Chairwoman Alison Bedula discuss possible changes to school calendars at Monday's school board meeting. Photo Credit: Melvin Mason
New Canaan High School and other schools might be open for a few more days in February under proposed changes to the 2013-14 school calendar. Photo Credit: Melvin Mason

NEW CANAAN, Conn. – New Canaan families who enjoy long ski trips in February may have to change their plans if proposed changes to the 2013-14 calendar are put in place.

Shortening February vacation, holding classes on Columbus Day and ending school a day earlier are among the changes the New Canaan Board of Education is considering. 

The school board had its first read of the proposed changes at its meeting Monday. Under the plan, the school year would end June 11, 2014, a day earlier than the calendar approved in December. It would also eliminate the last three days of the February vacation — Feb. 19 to 21 — with Feb. 14, 2014, remaining as a half-day for classes and a half-day for professional development.

The change would also call for classes on Oct. 14, 2013, Columbus Day, and the school year would have seven built-in weather days. Similar changes were recommended for the 2014-15 school year, which would end June 15, 2015, and have nine days built in to cover weather-related closures.

Many of the changes were suggested as a safeguard for possible weather closures and to provide time to finish capital projects at school buildings, Superintendent Mary Kolek said.

Board member Jim Kucharczyk suggested keeping the full week in February while shortening the April vacation. “My experience is that New Canaanites love their ski vacations,” he said.  

Kucharczyk also warned about starting school after Labor Day because the board had already fought successfully to begin classes before the end of summer holiday. “That’s a door you should open cautiously,” he said.

Board member Scott Gress didn’t like losing either vacation, saying parents value the time with their children and school custodial staff get time to clean the buildings.

“A full week in February means a break for the facilities, allowing for a cleansing of germs,” he said, noting that absenteeism on Feb. 19 to 21 would be high. “I think it’s ill-advised to take away the vacation time that we have."

The school board will continue discussions at its Feb. 27 meeting.

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Joseph Paul:

So preserving ski vacations is a good reason to make a decision about school vacations? Suppose we have 3 or 4 snow days between Jan 2 and the February break...then is a Feb break really necessary? This year we have 6 weeks between New Years and the February break this year and we have had a weather closing a Monday holiday, an early dismissal and a delayed opening, and a likely closure of early dismissal tomorrow. Again, do we need a week off next week? The fact of the matter is New Canaan families take vacations when they want anyway so it doesn't matter if you take away Feb or April. Those who are going to go on vacation will do so whether school is scheduled to be in session or not. Personally, I would rather have my kids off in April when the weather has the potential to be nicer and they can get outside for some fresh air.