School board considers calendar for next school year

Next year’s school calendar may include a delayed opening for kindergarteners so they aren’t wiped out from a full first week of school.

The Board of Education had a first reading of the 2018-2019 school calendar at its Dec. 11 meeting and is scheduled to vote on it at the January board meeting.

In explaining some of the key parts of the proposed calendar, School Supt. Dr. Elizabeth Feser said 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.

Feser speculated there must have been some complaints to legislators, “because in the springtime the mandate was eliminated.”

Faced with the option of using an ACES regional calendar for next school year or adopting its own, Feser said the administration has sort of compromised. The proposed 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.

But the administrators want to alter 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.”

The proposed calendar has school starting for students Aug. 27, which is a Monday.

Feser talked about the first week of school continuing as a full week, something she originally opposed.

Before the mandated regional calendar came to be, Milford students started the school year with a three-day week. “I was arguing for three days, and I got shot down,” Feser said.

But now, she is a fan of the first full week concept, and said 21 out of 25 schools in the district are also going with the first week of school being a full week.

However, in talking to teachers, administrators were told that while the first full week concept has been fine for most students, it was a little tough on the kindergarteners.

So Feser suggested that instead of holding kindergarten orientation prior to the the start of the school year, orientation take place on Tuesday, Aug. 28, at 9 a.m., the day after the rest of the students return to school, and then kindergarteners would start school on Wednesday, Aug. 29.

“Elementary principals were thrilled, and we think it will be a win win,” Feser said.

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

On the recommendation of several board members, including Chairman Susan Glennon, some of the half-day professional development days may be changed so half days and days off are more staggered.

The proposed calendar can be found on the school board website, within the Board of Education meeting package documents for Dec. 11. It is also reproduced below.