The Board of Education announced at their meeting on Monday that the 2012-13 calendar would not be undergoing any changes. However, the results of a poll conducted by the BOE showed that a change to winter break in 2013-14 and beyond would be welcomed.
A poll was sent out by Livingston Public Schools to the families of students seeking parent input on the calendars. An accompanying letter indicated that the input was for future calendars and not for 2012-13.
Superintendent Dr. Brad Draeger announced that even though showed that parents support shortening the February break by an almost 2:1 margin, he and the board believe that a change at this point would simply inconvenience more families than it would benefit.
“There seems to be no way we could open that can of worms up and change the calendar,” said Draeger. He added that a change now could create problems for those families who have already made travel arrangements for Winter Break.
Board President Leslie Winograd announced that in lieu of the findings – which show 962 in favor of shortening Winter Break and 569 in favor of keeping it as is – the board would work in the fall to plan for the 2013–14, 2014–15 and 2015–16 calendars to avoid a similar quandary in the future.
While there were dozens of parents in attendance at the June 4 BOE meeting that argued to change the break, Monday’s meeting was significantly less well-attended and no one challenged the board’s decision during the Public Comment Section.
The only change to the calendar will be the fifth grade Move-Up Ceremony, which will instead be on a Friday this coming year.
Patch polled readers following the last meeting, asking which calendar they would prefer. You voted 191 to 101 in favor of changing Winter Break.
Alternative High School Discussion
Superintendent Draeger also discussed with the board the renovation of the site into the Alternative High School for disabled students. After a lengthy discussion, as so as not to take any more time, the board agreed to meet this Thursday, June 21 at 5:30 p.m. (location TBD) in a Public Session to further discuss the funding for the project and how Livingston Township will contribute.
The administration’s plan centers around turning the present front entrance into a handicap accessible elevator that will cater to the needs of students using wheelchairs, but Draeger stressed that the building needs quite a lot of work before it is “rehabbed to our standards.” Its needs include new heating and HVAC systems; the electrical service needs to be upgraded from the current “1950s-era” one, in addition to facilities that comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
When one member of the public questioned the administration’s plan to build the elevator in the front of the building, Draeger responded: “I have a very strong proclivity that disabled people not be sent to the back of the building [to enter],” he said. “A – You will be in the weather longer if you are in a wheelchair. B – I think it is not befitting of a public entity.”
When finished the administration feels confident that the building will look and feel just like part of the high school and will be close enough – just over a miles away – that it will still allow for its students to be included in activities at the main campus.
Draeger stressed “This is not going to be easy,” but assured the board and the public that the current plan is probably the “best, most cost-effective way to do this.” Early projections have the cost of the renovation to the district at around $2 million, which will be paid over 20 years.
The plan is to sign agreements with the architect next month, award the bids in the fall and have the school ready to go by fall 2013. Though the board wanted to meet once more to discuss the details, several members offered votes of confidence in the superintendent.
“I’d say that [Draeger’s] track record when it comes to getting construction projects done on time is pretty remarkable,” said Winograd. “Definitely better than the township’s.”
“It gives me a lot of confidence that [he] is going to be involved in this,” said Board Member Chuck Granata.
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