Old Rochester Regional School Committee Chairman Patrick LeClair told members of ‘The Joint’ School Committees on January 21 that they should return to their individual school districts and discuss an eventual draft of the 2016/2017 school year calendar ahead of the next joint meeting. The Joint meets again in March when Superintendent of Schools Doug White hopes they will take a vote.
LeClair said he hoped for a more “quick process” this year “…So we’re not sitting here arguing about it…”as opposed to last year when school calendar discussions lasted some time until a vote was finally taken at the end of May 2015.
The date of most contention is Good Friday, which lands on March 25 this year. Two years ago, the joint school committees approved making Good Friday a regular school day and replacing that day off with the day before Thanksgiving. Members of the community and a number of school committee members opposed the notion; however, it was approved again for a second year to allow for another chance to analyze school attendance data.
LeClair said he hoped the joint committees would listen more to the school administrators and their recommendation on whether schools should remain open or return to a day off for students and staff.
“At the end of the day, it’s still 180 days that they have to be there,” LeClair stated.
White said administration was still working on a draft calendar, which none of the school committees have yet been shown.
“It would be nice to have a calendar by June,” said Marion School Committee Chairman Christine Marcolini.
White said a calendar draft would be available for school committees to discuss during their February meetings.
A vote during the March 24 joint school committees meeting would mean school committee members would not be able to review Good Friday school attendance data ahead of a vote, which a number of school committee members last year said would be vital.
During the pilot of the Good Friday school day on April 3, 2015, student and staff attendance was significantly down from average daily attendance, ranging from a 10-21 percent absentee rate up from an average of 4-6 percent. A higher number of students at the high school were also dismissed during the school day, to the tune of 42 students.
The next meeting of The Joint School Committee members is scheduled for March 24 at 6:30 pm in the Old Rochester Regional Junior High School media room.
By Jean Perry