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Upcoming 2019-20 Meetings

Sept. 17
Oct. 22
Nov 26
Jan 28*
Feb 28
March 20
April 24
May 15

Regular meetings held 3rd Floor Mondo, 8 :15 a.m.

*Special meeting held at The Hickcok Meeting Room, Summit Public Library,6:30 pm.

Bad Medicine and Frappucinos. Part A

School is in session! Hope your transition from leisure to full schedule has been smooth despite the heat.

It’s no secret that over the last couple of weeks parents have been commenting about the proposed changes in the school calendar. There are many concerns about the consequences this change will bring and some arguments about the benefits driving this change. If this change is welcome or not varies mainly because its impact it’s different for different families, its pros and cons are not defined equally across the district and what is more, it will not only affect students but also teachers and staff alike.

Yesterday the administration published the proposed 2019-2020 calendar and some of its key points. I have been analyzing many of the concerns and questions and these are some of my findings (in installments) :
A) Days of instruction: practical value vs real value.

By State law in NJ, schools must be in session (see 1) a minimum 180 days. Half and full days count as 1 day for calendar purposes. The extended school year is included in the calculation up to June 30 and only when it is required for all students.

To accumulate 180 days of instruction, it makes absolutely no difference if we add four half-days at the end of June or four full days at the beginning of the school year. Can we say they are equally useful when it comes to instruction?

According to the administration, this will be one of the biggest added benefits of starting before Labor Day. Advanced Placement courses (AP) have a testing calendar identical for all school nationwide, starting schools earlier will add more days to get more of the AP course load done before the spring testing. However, this claim was refuted by Summit High School AP History Teacher Wendy Donat in April’s BOE meeting (see 2). She argued that a survey done by the College Board showed that the schools in the Northeast -that began school in September- performed substantially better than other schools, adding that starting before Labor Day will have “a very negative impact for the teachers”.

At this point, it is unclear to me if more days will effectively translate in better results for AP students.
1 School Day in Session is a day on which the school is open, and students are under the guidance and direction of a teacher(s); and the day must be 4 hours or more to be considered a full day (or at least 2½ hours for kindergarten) (N.J.A.C. 6A:32-8.3(a) and (b)).