During their meeting Wednesday evening (Jan. 9), members of the Lawrence Township Board of Education gave their final approval to the district’s 2013-2014 school year calendar.
The approved calendar differs somewhat from the calendar draft that was introduced at the board’s December meeting. Most notably, students will now begin the 2013-2014 school year on Monday, Sept. 9.
Previously, under the draft calendar, students would have returned to school on Wednesday, Sept. 4, been off from school on Sept. 5 in observance of the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah, and then returned to school on Friday, Sept. 6.
A handful of parents spoke up during the Dec. 19 board meeting and argued that it didn’t make sense to have students return to school for one day, have the next day off, go back to school for one day and then have a weekend off.
During that meeting, school board president Laura Waters and district administrators conceded that the calendar was “messy” because of conflicts with holidays and also the need to avoid school ending too late in June when the weather turns hotter and summer camps begin.
Based on feedback received from parents and other concerned parties, however, the district opted to revise the calendar.
With school not beginning for students until Monday, Sept. 9, the district will now use Wednesday, Sept. 4 and Friday, Sept. 6, as professional development days for staff. Tuesday, Sept. 3, was listed on the draft calendar as a professional development day for staff, and remains such on the approved calendar. Monday, Sept. 2, is Labor Day.
Under the proposed calendar, schools would have been closed on Monday, Oct. 14 (Columbus Day), and Monday, March 14, 2014, for staff professional development. With that training now moved to Sept. 4 and Sept. 6 under the approved calendar, schools will now be open as normal on Oct. 14 and March 14, 2014.
“The September part of the 2013-2014 calendar was challenging because of the way national and religious holidays fall within the month,” said Rebecca Gold, the district’s director of personnel, professional development and administrative services. “We requested feedback from a variety of our constituencies after releasing the first 2013-2014 calendar draft at the Dec. 19 board meeting. Based on that feedback and in consideration of not having such a fragmented first week of school for students and families, we revised the calendar as presented at the Jan. 9 board meeting.”
Three emergency closing days are built into the 2013-2014 calendar. If those “snow days” are used, school will be in session on May 23, June 6 and June 13. If the emergency closing days are not used, schools will be closed on those three days.
The last day of school for the year remains unchanged: June 20, 2014.