Do you like cliffhangers? Then you’ll love the suspense of knowing whether schools will have a February vacation this year.
Members of voted by a narrow 5-4 margin late last week to continue moving forward with a plan that keeps February vacation in place unless there are two snow days before the board’s Feb. 9 meeting. In short, that means teachers and parents remain on notice that vacation could still be cancelled to make up for lost school days due to weather, but the vacation remains in place – at least for now.
The decision came after considerable discussion late last week in which School Superintendent Joseph V. Erardi Jr. and all nine members of the board weighed in on the issue.
“When I discussed the possible need to consider eliminating February break with you in November, I never imagined we’d be here today without another weather-related cancellation,” Erardi told the board as they began the discussion.
After needing to cancel the first day of school in August and a full week of school following the rare October snowstorm that left thousands in Southington without power for a week, the board last year voted to send notices to teachers and parents asking them to “be on notice” that February vacation could be cancelled.
If vacation were to be cancelled, school would be off on Monday for the Presidents Day holiday and then class would be in session the rest of the week. School vacation is currently scheduled for Feb. 20 – 24.
The weather has since cooperated, however, which left board members with a tough decision as they tried to determine whether to cancel the vacation anyway or proceed as planned and wait to see if two snow days would occur before Feb. 9.
Board members Brian Goralski, David Derynoski, Terry Lombardi, Patricia Queen and Colleen Clark voted to “stick to the plan” of waiting to see how the weather cooperates before making a final decision, one way or another, in February.
“We put a plan in place and I think the plan was well received, though pros and cons on both sides,” Derynoski said. “I think, in looking at what we have done and how we have done it, I think we should be sticking to the plan we agreed to.”
Goralski said with the current schedule, if there were no additional snow days then the last day of school would be June 19. He said he is comfortable in allowing for “up to three” additional days before the schedule gets pushed too far into June.
However, other Board of Education members are concerned that by waiting to make a decision until Feb. 9, it doesn’t leave a fair amount of time for parents and teachers to make a decision on how they will spend their vacation. Board members Patricia Johnson, Terri Carmody, Jill Notar-Francesco and Zaya Oshana opposed the motion.
Oshana said regardless of whether the vacation were to be cancelled or not, the board should have made a decision to help parents plan accordingly.
“There are a lot of people waiting to hear what will happen. I feel we should (have made) a decision either way and move forward,” Oshana said.
Johnson said she is concerned that with a June 19 graduation date, the board is taking a gamble of whether temperatures will remain cool enough in the early part of the summer for appropriate learning. Several of the schools do not have air conditioning, including the two middle schools, and the warm temperatures can make learning difficult.
It is also unfair to keep parents and teachers hanging as they await the final decision, Johnson said.
“This stop gap plan is unfair to everyone,” Johnson said. “I’m not crazy about students going to school and teachers trying to teach at the end of June.”
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