Regional school calendar: 'Big Brother'?

With perpetual state mandates guiding the direction of education, the school district intends to put its foot down on one proposal — at least temporarily.

Cooperative Education Services, in coordination with the Connecticut General Assembly’s recommendation made last year, is establishing a uniform regional calendar that local school boards across the state would have to fully implement by the 2016-17 school year.

Adoption of the uniform calendar is optional for 2014-15, but is required for 2015-16.

“The genesis, or logic, behind this new legislation is that if districts share a calendar, then there will be savings on buses and professional development day costs,” said superintendent Deborah Low at Monday night’s Board of Education meeting. “It’s a work in progress right now; I’m bringing it to your attention because we will discuss it — the expectation is we go regional with our calendar to align with other schools in the area.”

Board members John Palermo, Richard Steinhart, and Irene Burgess all said they would vote against the proposal for 2014-15 when it was put on the agenda for an official decision.

“With all the mandates, this is starting to feel awfully like big brother,” Mr. Steinhart said.

“It’s absolutely absurd,” added Ms. Burgess.

Board member Michael Raduazzo called it “another level of unnecessary bureaucracy.”

Nonetheless, Ms. Low stressed that educators should keep an eye on the issue because it ties in with one of the other problems the board is currently facing — the switch in state standardized testing away from the current CMT and CAPT model to the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium’s test, which is in alignment with the state’s Common Core standards.

The change, when applied, could force the district to shift back to a March spring break, instead of the current April break it uses.

“Going forward, the SBAC test will be given in April, not March,” she said. “There’s a possibility we’re moving back to a March break because of this.”

Despite the board’s reservations, the switch seems to be inevitable.

“The charge of the task force was to develop guidelines for a uniform regional school calendar for use by each regional educational service center,” says the proposed legislation from the state’s school calendar task force. “As identified in Section 322 of Public Act 13-247, each regional education service center shall develop a uniform regional school calendar to be used by each local or regional board of education in the region, consistent with the guidelines.”

The board approved the 2014-15 and 2015-16 district calendars back on May 28.

In 2014-15, spring break is scheduled from April 13 through April 17. The following year it is scheduled from April 18 to April 22.

The proposed regional calendar has the same spring break for schools in 2014-15, which means that whether the board accepts or rejects the legislation for next year, spring break will remain the same.

The 2015-16 school year is when the proposed calendar deviates from what the district has approved.

Cooperative Education Services proposes a regional spring break from April 11 through April 15.

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  • jon elkow

    The school board should consider that Ridgefield teachers might live in another district and it would be really nice if parents and children could have the same vacation/holidays. Not all government ‘mandates’ are bad….

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