The 2013-14 school calendar, continuing the annual exercise in balancing allotted time slots over a year among competing groups, has received a unanimous vote from the School Committee but far from wholesale agreement.
Before the 7-0 vote Thursday, June 13, committee members expressed concerns, some on behalf of parents, and the superintendent expressed her own: more time for teacher support.
"We have heard from elementary parents regarding early release," Superintendent Kathy Bodie said, noting that such days have increased to 13 from 11.
That increase, as well as the times of parent conferences drew discomfort from committee Chairman Jud Pierce and member Kirsi Allison-Ampe, both of whom have children attending the public schools.
"I will vote for this," Allison-Ampe said, "but it puts a burden on families."
Member Bill Hayner urged for more creative ways to address the competing needs.
Pierce agreed with both of his colleagues, expressing a general a general concern "about how we break up our year."
He said it "tough on families" to face a schedule for December parent conferences that have them at 11:15 a.m. on a Friday and at the same time the following Tuesday.
See the 2013-14 calendar here >>
Pierce said he would like to see a survey of teachers about what they want.
He also wanted to know why Arlington High School's graduation has been changed from Sunday to Saturday.
Here is a list of key changes in the calendar for the next school year:
-- Teachers return before Labor Day, on Aug. 28 and 29. In the past, they have returned after Labor Day.
-- The first day of school for grades one through 12 is the day after Labor Day, Tuesday, Sept. 3. In the past, the first has been the Thursday after Labor Day, but this year that Thursday is Rosh Hashanah, and schools will be closed.
-- The first day for kindergarteners is Monday, Sept. 9.
-- Early release days for elementary end at 1 p.m. on these dates:
Oct. 8, Nov. 19, Jan. 14, Feb. 25 (lunch will be served)
-- Early release days at all levels end at 1 p.m. on these dates:
Sept. 24, Oct. 22, Jan. 28, March 25, April 8, May 20 (lunch will be served)
-- Professional-development day (no school), Nov. 1
-- Arlington High School conferences, 6 to 8 p.m., Nov. 20 and 25
-- Elementary grades kindergarten through fifth grade conferences, 6 to 8 p.m., Dec. 4 and 12
-- Ottoson Middle School conferences, 6 to 8 p.m., Dec. 5 and 11
-- Early release for elementary and Ottoson conferences, Dec. 6, 11:15 a.m.
-- Early release for parent conferences at all levels, Dec. 10, 11:15 a.m.
-- AHS graduation, Saturday, June 7
Legal-services subcommittee continued
In other business, the School Committee voted, 7-0, continue the temporary legal services review subcommittee. There was no discussion.
Member Kirsi Allison-Ampe, subcommittee chair, said she made the motion because the panel's report could not be completed this month, in the light of one scheduled full committee meeting in June.
The motion asked to "continue the temporary Legal Services Review Subcommittee, as allowed by Policy BDE, for the purposes of examining the expenditures on legal services; documenting legal needs around special education disputes; and performing other work as appropriate. Scope of examination is to include the current fiscal year, and as far back in time as the Legal Services Review Subcommittee feels it needs to analyze for useful comparisons. Subcommittee is to deliver a report by the first meeting in October 2013, or earlier."
The subcommittee dates to May 2008 and was formed in part to review the performance of Stoneman Chandler & Miller, the School Committee's longtime law firm, in connection with its advice in the dismissals of Stavroula Bouris, until August 2007 the principal of Ottoson Middle School, and teacher Charles Coughlin. The paired filed a lawsuit in 2010, and the case scheduled for trial this fall.
In October 2010, the School Committee voted unanimously to continue using Stoneman Chandler for some legal services, but with a different attorney than it has long used, and decided to employ a separate lawyer as labor counsel, one who already advises the superintendent.
This story was published Tuesday, June 18, 2013.