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Tell Us Tolland: What's Your Opinion of February Vacation?

Once a whole week off, February vacation has been reduced to two days, or one day if there are too many snow days prior to the break.

On Wednesday, Tolland school board members decided to cut this year's February break in half.

With eight snow days already on the books, school officials needed to find a way to make up some time lost, and having students return to classes on Tuesday, Feb. 19, was a logically way accomplish this goal. Earlier this year, students went to school on Veteran's Day and the day after, both originally planned days off, to make up two of the lost days.

Two years ago, Tolland had a full week for February break. During the 2011-12 school year, the break was shortened to make up for days lost to Tropical Storm Irene and the October snowstorm.

It hasn't happened yet, but if more days must be made up so the school year doesn't extend into late June, April vacation is always a possibility. However, Superintendent of Schools William Guzman would hesitate to make that call because many people, including parents and staff, make getaway plans for that week.

What do you think about the loss of days off from school in February? Would you rather have the days back and have students go to school later in the year? Or should the school board keep taking from scheduled breaks to keep the school year as close to its scheduled end as possible? Share your opinion in the comment section below.

Emily February 16, 2013 at 05:07 PM
I think we should have an 11 month school year. GO to school for 11 weeks and have a week off. That is 4 true quarters and the kids don't spend the summer forgetting everything they learned the previous year. There is absolutely no reason to have summers off anymore.
Amie Giguere February 16, 2013 at 05:45 PM
When decision making regarding scheduling of anything is involved, it is impossible to make everyone happy. However, I would like to suggest that the Board of Education stick to what it prints on its published school calendar. It states on the 2012-13 published school calendar that "Make up days due to inclement weather will be scheduled after June 17 up to June 21, if needed. If more school days need to be made up, the days may be made up during April vacation beginning the first day of the week." Therefore, our family did not make travel plans for April vacation. We have, however, made travel plans for the other days that were published days off, without mention of taking them away. I understand that the missed days are counted as "excused absences", however my children are still missing content, that (without instruction) is difficult to make up for. I would argue is particularly true for High School students. Therefore, I am in favor of following the published calendar instead of making changes to it. Perhaps this will be a consideration when developing the calendar for the 2013-14 school year.
Tara February 17, 2013 at 08:08 PM
Taking Tuesday was the right call! Well done Tolland!
Robert Pagoni February 17, 2013 at 10:46 PM
Off the cuff I can give you a few reasons why I think your suggestion isn't workable. I won't comment on whether I like them or not, but here they are. Sports and other co-curricular activities are scheduled with other schools and the CIAC. They aren't on a quarterly schedule. Contracts, contracts, contracts with all of the unions, I would be interested to see which ones would want to change. Of course you need all of them to change. Keeping the schools open most of the year, may or may not have additional cost in utilities (hmmm?). I think these alone are show stoppers and that doesn't even include some parents that would be against it. All this said, it is great that you are putting in the time to brainstorm on how to make our system better! Keep those ideas coming both to the Town Council and the Board of Ed on any subject that might save "us" taxpayers some money and make life here in Tolland better. Bob
Robert Pagoni February 18, 2013 at 07:01 PM
Hi Amie, The last few years have been exceptional in terms of school cancellations. The Board's proactive approach to altering the calendar was to (1) take advantage of any possible vacation days by recapturing some of the lost days before winter ends, and (2) not go to the very end of June because, as you heard two years ago, many families have summer plans that begin in late June. The April vacation is one that many families and staff use to get away, and having school in April could possibly create more disruption. As mentioned above we heard from many parents about moving days off. It was one of the most attended meetings in my 10 years on the Board. We received a lot of emails on this issue also. The Superintendent looks at all of the options and then presents his best guess on how to go forward. The Board then evaluates it and says yes or no. The worst situation possible is to find ourselves at the end of June and not have all the days and hours completed. They must be done before July 1st. We have come close in the past. Thanks, Bob

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