Board reviews proposed school calendar

The Board of Education reviewed and discussed a proposed 2018-19 calendar for the Wilton Public School District during its meeting on Thursday, Oct. 26.

If the proposed calendar is approved, the first day of school next year would be Tuesday, Sept. 4, and the last day would be Friday, June 14.

“As a result of last year’s legislative action, we are no longer beholden to a regional calendar,” said Superintendent Kevin Smith, “so we’ve attempted to make some compromises with this calendar.”

Some of the considerations that went into making the 2018-19 calendar, said Smith, included whether to start school before or after Labor Day, scheduling professional learning days, winter weather and the last day of school.

First school day

Smith said he received “a great deal of very positive feedback over the last couple years” about starting school after Labor Day.

“When [Labor Day] falls on the first, second or third of September, I think it makes a lot of sense to start after Labor Day,” he said.

“When it falls later than that — the fourth, fifth, sixth and sometimes the seventh of September — I think it makes sense to start before Labor Day.”

Professional learning

In putting together the school calendar, Smith said, one goal was to “protect big chunks of instructional time.”

One way that was done with the proposed 2018-19 calendar was by scheduling "most" of the district’s professional learning days at the end of August before students return to school.

In the proposed calendar, Columbus Day, Oct. 8, and Election Day, Nov. 6, would be used for professional learning days and students would not have school.

Students would also have early dismissal for a professional learning day on Wednesday, Feb. 13.

Board member Lory Rothstein said some DRG-A districts plan to have a full day of school on Columbus Day next year and she is happy to see that Wilton is “making very good use of that day with professional development.”

Last school day

With the consideration that Wilton schools “may experience closures or delays three, four or five times over the winter,” said Smith, “we tried to protect against moving too late into June because, in my opinion, that’s not quality instructional time.”

At that point in the year, he said, “students are done, tests have been done, teachers are tired — we just don’t get the same bang for our buck as we do earlier in the year.”

With that in mind, Smith said, the goal for the 2018-19 year is to “officially wrap up somewhere around mid-June.”

Rothstein said she looked at all the 2018-19 calendars that have been posted and approved by DRG-A school districts and found that although Wilton would be the only one starting school after Labor Day, “all but one other school district [would end after] we do.”

Smith said he was “very conscious” of the concern regarding the last day of school, which is why he has proposed pushing professional learning days “that in the past have been during the school year” to August.

Another reason, said Rothstein, is that several towns have scheduled full weeks off in February and April.

Shortened days and breaks

Under the proposed calendar, students would have off Monday, Sept. 10, for Rosh Hashanah and Wednesday, Sept. 19, for Yom Kippur.

The calendar includes shortened days Thursday, Nov. 15, through Tuesday, Nov. 20, for kindergarten through eighth grade conferences.

Wednesday, Nov. 21, would also be a shortened day, followed by Thanksgiving recess on Thursday, Nov. 22, and Friday, Nov. 23.

Winter recess would take place Monday, Dec. 24, through Monday, Dec. 31, and there would also be no school on New Year’s Day, Jan. 1.

There would no school on Monday, Jan. 21, in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Students would have Thursday, Feb. 14, and Friday, Feb. 15, off for February recess, and no school Monday, Feb. 18, for Presidents’ Day.

Spring recess would be Monday, April 15, through Friday, April 19, and students would have no school on Memorial Day, which falls on Monday, May 27, in 2019.

Smith said the district explored moving spring break to March, but “it just didn’t make sense with the way we were planning rest of calendar, so we’re proposing April.”

He noted that some communities in the area have expressed interest in taking a February recess.

“In this particular calendar, we did add an extra day to the February recess and we planned an early dismissal for Feb. 13, with those hours in the afternoon being given to professional learning,” said Smith.

The Board of Education will vote on the 2018-19 school calendar during its next meeting on Thursday, Nov. 9, at 7 p.m., in the Wilton High School Professional Library.