Reacting to unhappy parents, the Framingham School Committee, in a split vote, approved changes to the 2013-14 school calendar.
The School Committee voted in May to approve a calendar with 4 weeks of school vacation, instead of the typical 3 weeks. The calendar also had a compromised early release schedule. Thursdays for teachers and Fridays for parents, but parents said after the vote while they would like Fridays have two days for early releases was a headache when it came to arranging for childcare.
The new calendar, approved Tuesday night, reduces the number of vacation days and changes early release days back to Thursdays.
The School Committee voted to eliminate Jan. 2 and 3 in 2014, as vacation days, thereby shifting the last day of school (the 180th day) to June 17, and the 185th day to June 24, 2014. The vote also allows for the Class of 2014 graduation to be held on June 1.
If the School Committee had agreed to keep the two vacation days, Superintendent of Schools Stacy Scott, said graduation would have to be on June 8, as seniors would not have met the state guidelines for the number of days needed.
School Committee Vice Chair David Miles made a motion to keep the two weeks of vacation over the holiday break in December-January, but the motion did not pass.
During the previous discussion and subsequent vote on the calendar, no parents were in the audience at the School Committee meetings. Tuesday night, a handful of parents attended and two spoke before the Committee.
Parent Alisa Zaref said stretching the school year so far into June is tough for students, as the schools are not air conditioned and it gets very hot.
"It's very hard for kids to concentrate," she told School Committee member.
She said it would be better to eliminate the two days in January than to have too more days of school in June, so close to July.
Parent Amy Feinstein told the School Committee consistency for early release days is important. Flip-flopping between Thursdays and Fridays benefits no one, including the students. "One day we can count on, is the way to go," she said.
Scott said it is "unusual" for him to ask the School Committee to revisit a vote, he felt this was a needed exception as it fixes the graduation issue, and shows parents the administration is responsive.
Scott said the calendar vote was also delayed this year due to contract negotiations with the teacher's union.
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And parents this may not be the final changes to the 2013-14 school calendar.
School Administration may propose a couple of more changes to the calendar, based on feedback from parents and the Town-Wide PTO at the next School Committee meeting.
Those changes include moving the Friday, Jan 31 no school professional development day to either the Friday before or the Tuesday after the Martin Luther King Jr. Monday holiday and eliminating the half day early release scheduled for Friday, Nov. 8.
School Committee member Andy Limeri said he supported the idea of clustering professional development early release and no school days with vacations, holidays, etc to benefit parents, scheduling for childcare.