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New Canaan students keep their spring break, for now

Published 10:51 am, Tuesday, November 20, 2012
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New Canaan students can keep their spring break -- at least for now -- according to a preliminary decision by the Board of Education and Superintendent Mary Kolek Monday night.

Kolek suggested in a first read, which was met with unanimous support, that in order to make up for the six school days canceled by Hurricane Sandy, students will remain in school for the entire third week of June, add one half-day in February, and have the school year shortened by one day.

New Canaan Public Schools typically keep the third week in June as a gray area should it need to add days. The last day of school on the calendar was Monday, June 17. That will now be moved to Friday, June 21, which will make up four days. Connecticut standards don't allow schools to go into the fourth week of June without serious cause, according to Kolek.

The school district has a 182-day school year. Connecticut law only requires a 180-day school year. One of these days will simply be knocked off of the calendar to provide another day.

The final day will be added on Feb. 15. This had been slated as a professional development day with no school for students. Instead, students will have a half day and the other half will be used for professional development, making up the sixth and final day lost to Sandy. Feb. 15 is the last day before the week-long February vacation.

Board of Ed member Penny Rashin asked whether it would be better to cut the April vacation, a time when students are more engaged in school, than to add the days to the end of June, when many students are starting to check out. To do so might increase the amount of learning that happens in these six days, she said.

"Anytime someone is in a classroom they should be ready to learn. It would be important to us to make sure we have a schedule where a majority of students are present in the classroom," Kolek said, seeming to imply that if the district cut the February vacation students whose families already had planned a vacation might simply not show up in large numbers. Kolek added that the extra days in June were the way the schedule had been built already, by people who presumably had considered these things.

If any more days of school are canceled, the first one to go will be the 181st day, but after that the district will have to start looking at the April vacation, Kolek said.

No decision was final, though. The suggestion by Kolek was only a first read, and it may be weeks before the calendar is officially changed, BOE Chairman Alison Bedula said.

"We like to give parents the possibility to weigh in. In all honesty it's usually 50-50, but we like to give them the opportunity," she said.

twoods@bcnnew.com; 203-972-4413; @Woods_NCNews