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February School Break Could Be Reduced in 2013

Break could be two days off in an effort to not end school as late as June 28.

Don't make your plans to head on vacation for February break in 2013 just yet because there might not be a full week off.

The Millburn Board of Education split its vote on the calendar for 2012-13 during its meeting Monday night. The proposal includes cutting down February break to two days with the remaining three days being half days.

Because the board split its vote 4-4, the motion did not carry. Board President Michael Birnberg said the proposal would return at the next meeting when all board members could be present.

The school board had previously put off voting on the proposed 2012-13 calendar because of concerns about the layout of half days and how school could end on June 28.

If the proposal were to pass, school would start on Sept. 5, 2012. February break would be Feb. 18-19, 2013, and April vacation would be April 22-26, 2013. The last day of school would be June 21.

Scott Kamber, board program committee chairman, said the calendar provoked a lively discussion in the committee, but the committee members felt it was important for high school graduation not to be almost in July. "We did not want school to end later than June 21," he said.

The committee members decided to preserve breaks as much as possible, but they also didn't want to make judgement calls on religious holidays, Kamber said. For example, Rosh Hashanah will still be two days off in September and was not cut back to one day.

Kamber speculated there could be changes from the state Department of Education, though, that would allow school officials to reinstate some or all of February break.

"There's no good solution," he said. "It's one of those years where everything conspires against us."

Lisa Chapman, a board member, questioned if other things could be done, like starting school on Sept. 4 instead of Sept. 5. Not having a full break between Jan. 2 and April 20 would not be good for the students and staff, she said.

Schools Supt. James Crisfield said school officials would need a side agreement with the teachers union for the teachers to return in August, but they could work on that.

Debra Fox, a board member, said she doesn't have a problem with February break being a long weekend, but she thinks April break is too late. She would want to schedule the week off earlier.

There was questions why the district needed to give two days off for Rosh Hashanah, and Kamber said it has been a long-standing practice. It was debated in the committee, he said, but for many people it's a two-day holiday. They don't want kids to feel pressured they have to go to school rather than celebrate the holiday, he said.

MK February 16, 2011 at 10:25 PM
If the February break gets abolished, I truly hope they consider moving the break to March. If not, people will continue to use the President's day week for vacation--especially given it looks as though it will be two days off and three half days. (I thought I saw "extended single session" or something like that in the proposed calendar). Right now, we are still full of steam but I think if we had to go until April without any vacation, I'd have some cranky and burn out kiddies! Having said that, June 21 is a much saner day to end the school year. Given the choice, I'd be okay with ONE break (in March) and an earlier end of school.
Lucinda Mercer February 16, 2011 at 11:25 PM
Love the fact that the Board is finally considering a suggestion I made years ago. Where I grew up we had the week before Easter off and ended school about June 15. Granted this was in LA so we didn't have snow days, but we did get the Jewish holidays off. When school ends in the last week of June, many kids miss those last few days because camp has started or their family vacation has to be taken at that time. At least if school ends no later than the 3rd Friday you're more likely to have kids stay through the end of the school year so the school year is a more honest 180 days and parents don't have to choose between camp and school.
Larry February 16, 2011 at 11:26 PM
I, for one, would like to see the days off for Rosh Hashanah reduced to one day off. Most Jews I know only celebrate the first day. (For what its worth, my family is Jewish). While the 1st day affects almost all Jews, very few celebrate the 2nd to the extent that that would required a day off from school. This seems to be a case of catering to the very few but affecting the many.
jean p February 17, 2011 at 05:40 AM
I was at middle school today and ran into a teacher who happened to comment that he was really looking forward to the upcoming break. What do other teachers and students think?
MarkDS February 17, 2011 at 11:07 AM
There is merit in not having a full week off after Presidents day. But turning the rest of the week into half days is just an invitations to absenteeism. And if a substantial portion of the class is missing the days get turned into time wasting busy work for those students who do attend becasue teachers will not want to advance the curriculum with so many not there.
Mary Critchlow February 17, 2011 at 11:56 AM
I agree having half days are a waste of time. It has been my experience that no teacher teaches on half days and therefore, or because of this, students don't attend. Perhaps the BOE can look over the attendence records for early dismissal days (K-12) before they vote on the school calendar.
Acton February 17, 2011 at 02:15 PM
The February break should start on Friday (tomorrow, e.g.) and end on Tuesday or Wednesday.
SHMill February 17, 2011 at 03:00 PM
Just to clarify, this is only for school year 2012-2013, not a permanent change. Also, I agree that half days are not ideal (teaching time is reduced, families will still take the entire week off), but remember that extended single session days still count as a full day which means that the Wednesday, Thursday, Friday would still count toward our required 180 days. I would prefer they eliminate the November teacher's convention days since I don't recall ever hearing a teacher attend, however, I think that is another thing that is mandated.
KLF February 18, 2011 at 02:25 PM
Regarding the spring break . . . I believe that they arrive at the timing by scheduling the break exactly half way between February break and the end of school. I think this was decided at so as not to have to choose between coinciding the break with Easter or Passover.

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