The following has been submitted by Marilyn Joyce Lehren, Manager of Communications and Community Outreach for Livingston Public Schools:
Changing the last day of school is being considered by the Livingston Board of Education, which discussed the calendar for the 2013-2014 school year at its workshop meeting on Monday night.
The board was presented with three options by school administration, but no decision was made and the issue will once again be an agenda item for a possible vote when the board members next meet on Monday, October 16.
School board members are taking another look at the 2013-2014 calendar, (a calendar that was previously approved), at the request of parents and camp directors who pointed out that the last day of school as currently set falls after many camps begin. A district survey found that parents by a 2-to-1 margin favor shortening the February winter break to shorten the ending of the school year, according to Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brad Draeger.
In all the options presented, the calendar does not change the number of days schools are required by law to be open for students. It does, however, suggest possible changes that could move up the last day of school by four days.
In a discussion on the topic Monday night, board members considered an option that would shorten February break, but also talked about other changes not impacting the closing date of schools such a remaining open on Election Day and using Columbus Day as a professional development day for teachers with no students in attendance. The plan would also decrease by one the number of half days at the end of the 2013-2014 school year. The school year would end with two half days instead of three, a move deemed more viable in June since all classrooms are now equipped with air conditioning.
Traditionally, LPS schools have closed for a week in February.
The 2013-2014 school year was specifically targeted because classes are due to begin on Monday, September 9 -- a late start date because of when Labor Day and Rosh Hashanah fall. School is scheduled to end June 25.
The board could decide to leave the calendar as previously approved. However, it has asked the administration to further revise the options to shorten the February break around the long President’s Day Weekend, and possibly cutting back on the number of snow days that are set aside in case of bad weather.
As part of the possible calendar revision, school officials are also considering shifting a day off on Election Day in November to Columbus Day in October (for students only; staff would attend professional development). The change is possible because district and township officials have been working on details of a plan that would move polls from the schools to township-owned buildings. Two schools would retain voting, Harrison and Mount Pleasant Middle School, but both schools have outdoor entrances to a secure area of the school that keeps a separation of voters from the students.
The district’s Central Office staff is currently reviewing the options to revise the school calendar based on suggestions from the Board of Education on Monday night. No decisions have been made.