First school day for next year’s kindergarteners will be delayed

Kindergarteners will start school two days after the rest of students next school year so the city’s youngest students aren’t wiped out on Friday from a full week of school.

School will start next school year on Monday, Aug. 27 for the rest of students, and kindergarteners will start on Wednesday, Aug. 29.

Instead of holding kindergarten orientation prior to the the start of the school year, orientation will take place on Tuesday, Aug. 28, at 9 a.m., the day after the rest of the students return to school, and then kindergarteners will start school the following day.

“Elementary principals were thrilled, and we think it will be a win win,” School Supt Dr. Elizabeth Feser said last month when the Board of Education first discussed the 2018-19 school calendar.

Feser explained that having a full first week of school works for most students, but has proven tiring for kindergarteners.

This week she told board members that she canvassed area schools and found that many have a first full week of school for kindergarteners, but some have half days, and a handful start kindergarten on the second or third day of school.

In New Haven, kindergarteners start school more than a week after the rest of the student body.

Responding to board member concerns, Feser checked on child care in Milford for parents who might have a hard time balancing work with a delayed kindergarten opening.

She said she learned that the YMCA closes that one week of the year for a thorough cleaning, so that would not be an option for parents looking for childcare. So she called the Milford Boys and Girls Club, and she said the club offered to watch kindergarteners on that Monday and Tuesday free of charge for local parents.

The Board of Education had a first reading of the 2018-2019 school calendar at its Dec. 11 meeting and, after a few changes Jan. 8, voted unanimously to adopt it.

In explaining some of the key parts of the calendar, Feser said earlier that two years ago the state mandated that every school district comply with a regional calendar. Milford, being part of the Area Cooperative Educational Services (ACES) regional service center, therefore set its calendar to be the same as the nearly 30 districts that are part of ACES.

But now the state has dropped that regional calendar mandate.

Faced with the option of using an ACES regional calendar for next school year or adopting its own, the administration compromised. The adopted Milford public school calendar is largely based on the ACES one, with some changes.

“While this regional calendar is no longer mandated by law, given that some of our students attend programs/schools operated by ACES, we feel it is appropriate for Milford to follow the core elements of the calendar, specifically, the start date for students, the professional development days at the start of the year, the December holiday recess and April recess,” Feser wrote in a memo to the school board.

The administrators altered the February vacation somewhat. While the ACES calendar has students off from school Feb. 16 to 19, which is a Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, Milford prefers starting the holiday on Friday, Feb. 15, so school will be closed Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

“Several years ago we did a survey of parents, and overwhelmingly their choice was for Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday,” Dr. Feser said. “So in deference to that, we moved to recommend that the President’s Day [holiday] be Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday.”

April vacation would be the same as the ACES calendar, running April 15 to 19.

On the recommendation of several board members, some of the half-day professional development days were changed so half days and days off are more staggered.

An October early dismissal day was changed from the first week of the month to Oct. 17. The board had suggested making it Oct. 10, but Feser said she learned that PSATs will be given that day.

And a February early dismissal day was changed from Feb. 13 to the 27th.