Should school start after Labor Day? Should there be one break rather than two in the second half of the school year?
Millburn Board of Education members didn't give support for either happening during a discussion last week. Board President Michael Birnberg raised the issue during the board's retreat, which was a free discussion on a number of issues, including the budget.
Birnberg wondered if it was time to break the cycle since the school year is lasting longer, especially with many high school students completing work in May because of Advanced Placement tests.
He questioned the board if it was time to look at having one week off in March instead of one week in February and one week in April. Additionally, he wondered if it was time to start school before Labor Day, which some school districts did this school year because the holiday was late.
When Birnberg asked the board if there was support for either, though, no one raised their hands.
Rona Wenik, a board member, said the February break is really important to students, especially at the high school, because it gives some relief from the pressures of school.
Jeff Waters, board vice president, said families with children who participate in fall sports need to be in town during August because of practices. But that only affects a number of kids at the high school.
Lise Chapman, a board member, wondered if April vacation could be reduced rather than taken away completely. School still needs to be closed for Good Friday, she said, but she doesn't think school needs to be closed for a full week, especially since it's at the end of the year.
But the discussion turned to half days. Board member Scott Kamber said the frustration is over the half days that eat away at the calendar. "Nothing goes on," he said of what happens in the classroom on these days. "Many parents don't make their kids go to school the day before Thanksgiving."
Birnberg wondered if half days could be consolidated and turn some of them into full days. He also questioned how those days could become productive.
Board member Debra Fox, said she has a fifth grader at home who likes to sleep. She'd rather see the half days be the second half of the day rather than the first. It would give students more time to sleep, she said.
But Wenik said she doesn't think half days are that bad. It gives teachers a chance to do something more informal or creative in the classroom, she said.
Schools Superintendent James Crisfield said he would bring a draft of the 2012-13 calendar to an upcoming meeting and some changes were needed for the 2011-12 calendar. At that time, he said, there could be a further discussion on the calendar.