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Sunday, March 25 News

School board to reconsider change to 2015 calendar

Fairfield public schools' spring vacation in 2015 -- set two weeks earlier than usual by the Board of Education in December -- isn't set in stone.

Jennifer Maxon-Kennelly, the school board member who made the motion to move spring vacation ahead by two weeks next year, has requested that the approved 2014-15 student calendar be added to the board's March 11 meeting agenda. The school board meets that day at 7:30 p.m. in the Education Center, 501 Kings Highway East.

"My reason for bringing up the calendar again is that, even though `calendar' was on the December agenda, so our discussing and voting was known, the public had no way of knowing my intention of suggesting the change that I did and thus had no means of offering their feedback and thoughts," Maxon-Kennelly said in an email Wednesday. "That has weighed on me quite a bit since our vote."

Philip Dwyer, the school board chairman, said the 2014-15 calendar would be back on the board's agenda March 11.

"I applaud Mrs. Maxon-Kennelly's desire to ensure both the public and the board members have an opportunity to further discuss this question," he said in an email Thursday.

Maxon-Kennelly's motion Dec. 10 to have spring vacation in 2015 from March 30 through April 6 -- instead of April 13 through 17 -- was approved on a 5-4 vote, with Dwyer, school board Vice Chairman Paul Fattibene and board members John Convertito and Marc Patten voting in opposition.

The change also required a conference day to be rescheduled from April 1 to April 8. Those were the only two approved changes from the 2014-15 calendar that Superintendent of Schools David G. Title recommended.

Patten had said the earlier spring vacation in 2015 would conflict with the Jewish observance of Passover, a holiday with restrictions on diet and activities that aren't compatible with how many families spend vacations, and cited that as his reason for voting against it.

But Maxon-Kennelly said Wednesday that it wasn't unusual for spring vacation and Passover to coincide. This year, spring vacation is from April 14-18, and Passover is from the evening of April 14 to the evening of April 22.

Dwyer said Thursday that he remains opposed to the earlier spring vacation in 2015.

"My original position remains unchanged. The superintendent's recommended calendar conformed to our prior calendars and to the CES (Cooperative Educational Services) recommended calendar," he said in the email. "It will also be the standard, per a new state law, for a uniform calendar in the 2015-16 year. Changing a calendar for one year and then reverting back to the CES calendar the next year seemed disruptive to me."

Title said Dec. 10 that about 100 Fairfield students spend half a day in programs run by the regional CES and if spring vacations on the Fairfield school district's calendar and CES calendar don't align, those students wouldn't get a spring vacation.

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Maxon-Kennelly had proposed moving spring vacation ahead by two weeks in 2015 to better accommodate student athletes and upperclassmen who plan to visit colleges. She had said an earlier spring vacation would also give students more time to prepare for Advanced Placement exams and that she had heard from parents who want an earlier spring vacation.

Only two members in the audience at the board's Dec. 10 meeting spoke about the 2014-15 student calendar and neither offered an opinion about the date of spring vacation.