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Reaction to Wall BOE's School Calendar Decision Continues

Parents set up Facebook group, promise online petition to try to change board's decision

The change in the upcoming school year calendar is continues to prompt reaction from those on both sides of a decision to slash a 10-day February break from next year’s calendar.

On Sunday, Superintendent Daniel Simon posted a message to his Twitter account alerting residents that an audio version of the Board of Education meeting minutes was available that specifically covered his explanation of the revised calendar, which, among other changes, reduces the February break from six school days to three.

Days earlier, a Facebook group dedicated to expressing dissatisfaction over the decision was started by a district parent. It has collected more than 100 followers. 

Simon said he tried to find the most educationally sound calendar from a variety of options he drew up and floated past numerous school board committees, the teachers’ union and others.

“It’s not possible, and I’m well aware of the fact that it’s not possible to satisfy every request,” Simon said. “Every family has their own perspective on what works best for them.’’

And some parents are, indeed, displeased with Simon’s recommendation and the board’s decision to codify it.

“I don’t think this is as working-family friendly as they would like us to believe it is,’’ said Mike Galos, of Pennsylvania Avenue.

The Board of Education at its Feb. 19 meeting voted 9-0 to adopt the 2013-14 school district calendar. Members of the board did not comment before the vote, which followed a public comment period where members of the audience railed against cutting the February break.

Among other changes to next year’s calendar is the addition of a half day on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and a five-day weekend – including the weekend days – from Nov. 7 – 12 for all students. Elementary school students would also have four more half days during the month to accommodate parent-teacher conferences, according to the schedule.

“It is evident that the February winter break is one that emotes strong sentiments from both points of view,” Simon said on the audio recording. “In order to maintain the spirit of the break, without extending the school year, while also recognizing the challenges that result from it, the break was reduced from six school days to three school days.”

But the schedule that Simon presented, and the board adopted, Galos says likely will increase the burden on working families, not alleviate it. The added half days will make schedule coordination more difficult for families who try to take individual days off here and there instead of asking for a full week off from work in February, he said.

“Adding more half days is not working family friendly,” Galos said.

Galos said the motivation behind the effort to oppose the new schedule was twofold.

“The ultimate goal is to try to get the February break back,’’ he said. “The secondary goal is to try to get the (school) board to explain why all nine of them voted to eliminate something that has been in place in Wall forever.”

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