In a split vote that had both sides anticipating criticism from some parents, the Board of Education voted to shorten the district calendar should there be two or three more additional days of school cancellations this year.
"It's very frustrating," Board of Education member Laura Roche said at Tuesday's meeting at the . "I don't think we are going to be able to win."
If the district were to have one more snow day – to bring the total to 10 missed days – the last day of school would move to Fri., June 22.
Under Tuesday's newly approved changes, if school was canceled for a second or third day, the last day of classes for students would remain unchanged at June 22.
That means, for students, two days would be completely removed from the school calendar and they would not have to make them up. That change is allowed because Newtown normally schedules 183 days of classes and the state requires only 180 days.
However, teachers would still have to report to work to attend professional development on June 25, and possibly the 26.
The fourth and any subsequent missed days would be taken from spring recess. and later from the end of the school year if necessary.
The proposal garnered the support of Roche, chairman Debbie Leidlein, Cody McCubbin and John Vorous while Richard Gaines, Bill Hart and Keith Alexander voted against the plan.
The three members said they believed the calendar should remain unchanged and opposed any move to possibly shorten the year to 181 days.
"I seemed to be more on the side of leaving what we already had in place," Alexander said.
Gaines also said during the year, parents voiced concern about the lack of instructional time in the classroom, and so, eliminating any days from the calendar ran counter to that strategy.
Still Leidlein said she saw benefits to the changes, such as that the district may be able to realize savings by having fewer days they must run the buses. Also, she was leery about jeopardizing April break should there be a need for more make-up days.
"If we remove days from April break, the use of that time for instruction will be difficult for teachers because students will be away," she said. "If I look at things and how we can get the most out of a difficult situation...this is the best way to address the situation."
Vorous also argued that because many families are expected to be away for April vacation, few students will be in school, increasing the likelihood that would have to repeat their lessons when everyone returns.
"It's bodies in the room waiting until it's over and after vacation, they start teaching again," he said.
Vorous also said all efforts should be made to keep school from ending any later than the second to last week in June, due to the heat.
See below for the practical effect of Tuesday's decision.# Snow Day
Last Day of School for Students
# Student Days Other Effect 9 (currently) June 21 183 10 June 22 183 11 June 22 182 June 25, Staff Development Day 12 June 22 181 June 26, Staff Development Day 13 June 22 181 April 20, School is Open
14 June 22 181 April 19, School is Open 15 June 22 181 April 18, School is Open 16 June 22 181 April 17, School is Open 17 June 22 181 April 16, School is Open
Correction: Two days have been completely removed from the school calendar and do not need to be made up by students. Also, if the number of snow days exceeds 12, the make-up days will be taken from spring break starting with April 20 and working backwards through the week, according to the superintendent. An earlier version of this article mischaracterized the practical effect of the calendar change and did not correctly explain how make-up days would apply to April break. The corrections have since been made.