February break returns despite state schedule

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February break returns despite state schedule

Sophie Call, Staff writer

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On March 28, the Westport Board of Education (BOE) voted to keep February break in place for another two years. Until yesterday, the district had been told that this year’s break would be the last, due to a statewide mandated schedule.

“Break is so important for students,” Jeffrey Shepard ’18 said. “It helps them develop interpersonal relationships with their friends and family.”

For the 2016-2017 school year, students will attend classes from Sept. 1 through June 19, with a break from Feb. 17 to 24. While the new state mandated schedule only allows summer vacation and then a week each in April and December, Superintendent Dr. Elliott Landon proposed a new schedule that would allow for the familiar February break.

“The break is permitted by law, as confirmed by legal counsel to the Board of Education,” Landon assured, and then went on to explain that it was made possible through the use of flex days, which are days “that can be used to adapt the uniform calendar to the needs of the school district that wishes to use them.”

In Westport, this means keeping February break for at least two more years.

Two board members, Elaine Whitney and Karen Kleine, abstained from the vote because they had not yet received written assurance from their lawyer that creating February break for the next two years would be in compliance with the law. In the end, however, it passed with by a vote of 4-0.

Both students and teachers have expressed their excitement after learning that they will be able to keep their week off in the middle of the winter, for vacationing, hanging out with friends or just relaxing.

“A lot of students go skiing then,” Libby Murray ’19 said, “and if we didn’t have that break, we wouldn’t be able to ski. April is just too hot, it’s already beach weather, and Christmas break is Christmas; it’s not the time to ski.”

February isn’t just a time for skiing, as some people like to escape the snow and slush on a tropical vacation. “I like to go to a warm place during February break,” English teacher Brian Tippy said, “and it’s far easier if [break’s] a full week.”

However, Philip Cadoux ’16 was disappointed to hear that February break would be back on.

“I didn’t want them to have the break,” he said. “It doesn’t affect me, ‘cause I’m going to be in college, but I wanted them to be suffering, too.”

A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the vote count to be 4-2, and incorrectly stated the reason Whitney and Kleine abstained from voting to be their disapproval of keeping February break in the schedule. Whitney and Kleine expressed support for February break, but abstained due to lack of written assurance from their lawyers that the break adhered to state law.

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