Darien Board of Education votes to have school April 1, later into June to compensate for storm-related cancellations
Published 1:04 am, Thursday, March 25, 2010
Darien Public Schools will hold classes further into the summer than previously planned.
Students have missed five days of school due to weather-related cancellations to date this academic year. There were two snow days during the month of February, on Wednesday, Feb. 10 and Friday, Feb. 26. Additionally, school was cancelled for a three-day stretch, between Monday and Wednesday of last week, due to the severe storm that hit Darien on Saturday, March 13.
According to Superintendent Donald Fiftal, the district typically closes two or three days per school year. The district usually adds one day to the school calendar for each day closed due to weather, Fiftal said.
Schools will now hold class on Thursday, April 1, which was originally included in the academic calendar as a staff development day. The development day will now be held after the last day of school: June 21. School was originally scheduled to end on Tuesday, June 15. Summer school is set to begin on Monday, June 28.
Fiftal said last week that there was a rumor circulating throughout town that the district would not have to make up the days, due to the state of emergency declared by Gov. Rell; that's not the case, he said.
"By law, schools must be in session a minimum of 180 days to constitute a school year," Fiftal wrote in a memo to the BOE. "Also, our current total of five days closing, though a high number for Darien, is not at all an uncommon number in other areas of the state. Further, even with five days to make up, we still have six more days in June during which school could be held, so there is absolutely no justification for requesting an exemption. Finally, as an education community, we need to continue to hold to the high value that Darien places on instructional time in the classroom. Requesting an exemption, when there are calendar days available for school, would run contrary to our professed values."
The Board of Education also discussed the possibility of holding school on Good Friday, which falls on April 2, but steered clear of holding class on that particular date. According to Fiftal, Good Friday is listed as a state holiday, which means that if the district were to hold class, it would need to provide substantive recognition of the holiday.
"For Good Friday, it would be problematic for a school to recognize the holiday," he said. "I can't recommend that one."
But several Board members said they hoped to provide a makeup day at some point during April to help advanced placement students regain missed class time needed to prepare for their exams. In the end, the Board voted to move the staff development day to June and tack four days to the end of the academic year. Unless there are further cancellations before April 1, this means that graduation day is likely to be held on June 21.
Graduation was held as late as June 22 in 2004, according to Fiftal. The earliest it's been held in the past eight years was in 2005, when graduation was held on the June 9.