Photo: The calendar.
After a spirited give and take over three meetings, the Belmont School Committee agreed the 2017-18 school year will begin, as it has traditionally over the years, usually after the Labor Day holiday.
But after that? Well, we’ll see.
At last week’s meeting, the committee – by a five to one vote – decided far too many Belmont families have already started or completed their vacation or summer camp plans to upset the apple cart of tradition, voting to begin the 2017-18 school year on Wednesday, Sept. 6. Kindergarteners would not start full-day schooling until Monday, Sept. 11.
Under this schedule, the last day of school – with five snow days already added – will be Wednesday, June 20.
The vote continues the School Committee policy of beginning school on the first Wednesday of September.
“I would lean towards sticking to the policy we have now,” said Committee member Elyse Shuster who in earlier meetings was willing to take a new look at the policy.
Under the alternative start day, the 2017-18 year for students would have commenced on Wednesday, Aug. 30. Students would return on Thursday, Aug. 31 before taking a four-day holiday recess before coming back on Tuesday, Sept. 5.
Championing a pre-Labor Day start date is Belmont Superintendent John Phelan who said students and staff would benefit from entering school before the holiday to decrease start-of-the-year anxieties and begin the school year “ready to go” on the Tuesday after Labor Day.
Member Susan Burgess-Cox, the lone “no” vote, said while she understands the reasoning behind the later start date as “not shortening summer,” she noted if the school year ends earlier “so will your summer in June.”
While the committee stuck with current convention, it will discuss possible policy changes for future school years and will update the public in coming meetings.
Shuster said she’d like for the policy subcommittee to draft a note which would allow for flexibility in starting the school year much like what occurs in the Weston schools. Its policy, adopted in 2011, starts school on the Tuesday after Labor Day if the holiday occurs before Sept. 5; if Labor Day is on the 5th or later, the year begins on the Wednesday before the holiday.
“This would be a good compromise to have a consistent policy” that would allow for a flexible start date concerning Labor Day, said member Murat Bicer.
In addition to keeping the status quo on starting the school year, the committee approved an
- One additional early release day for Chenery Middle School student; to allow more time for parent/guardian/teacher conferences.
- The first districtwide early release day will be in the first week of October, moving from the traditional last week in September.
- And since Veterans’ Day in 2017 falls on a Saturday, which under state law is celebrated on the day and not on the following Monday, the holiday does not appear to impact a school day in the coming school year.