Wilton Board of Education reviews drafted regional calendar

In August, the Connecticut State Department of Education passed legislation that established a task force to develop guidelines for each Regional Educational Service Center (RESC) to use in developing uniform regional school calendars.

At its April 10 meeting, the Wilton Board of Education reviewed the draft regional school calendar developed by Cooperative Educational Services (CES), the RESC of Wilton and 15 other municipalities.

“The school calendar is probably one of the most contentious items throughout the year,” said Chairman Bruce Likly.

“I have a difficult time with this one. I find it very ironic that the calendar that they’re proposing is the calendar that we adopted last year.”

Some guidelines listed in the Uniform Regional School Calendar Task Force’s January final report include:

  • At least 180 student school days each school year.
  • A common start date.
  • Two common professional development and in-service training days for certified employees.
  • Three vacation periods.

CES draft calendar

The CES draft calendar includes a start date for students on the Wednesday before Labor Day each year.

“In the case for 2015-16, the start date would be Wednesday, Sept. 2,” explained Superintendent Gary Richards.

“The impact on this is a slight change since we have often started late in August, which helps us when we have inclement weather.”

On Election Day, schools will be closed for students, while staff must report for professional learning, according to the draft calendar.

“We have generally had this for Election Day, so that’s no change for us,” said Dr. Richards. “Schools would be closed for Thanksgiving, the following Friday — again, that’s no change for us.”

Dr. Richards said other items in the draft regional calendar that would not affect Wilton include Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Thanksgiving, December break, Martin Luther King Day, Good Friday, and Memorial Day.

The Uniform Regional School Calendar Task Force’s report states that of the three yearly uniform school vacation periods, no more than two can be weeklong, and one must be during the summer.

The task force guidelines instruct each region to discuss a February break and “work toward common agreement on the number of days identified as vacation.”

Dr. Richards said this will have quite an impact on the school districts.

“Some districts have chosen to make that February break a whole week, and others, like us, make it a long weekend," he said.

The  guidelines state regions must “work toward common agreement on student and non-student days for holidays.”

On the other hand, the report states regions and districts will need flexibility for cultural and religious observances and thus allows for five flexible days for individual district needs.

Dr. Richards said, “The regional calendar, as proposed, does not regulate early release days, snow day allowances, high school graduation dates, and end dates for students.”

The regional calendars were to be implemented for the 2015-16 school year, but Dr. Richards said pending legislation could postpone implementation until 2016-17.

“I think we should wait and see what happens in the legislation in the next several weeks, and see if that will give us guidance.”

The legislative session ends May 7.