Calendar changes for 2016-2017 school year spark opinions

According to a draft of the 2016-2017 Westport Public School calendar posted on the Board of Education website, February break will be shortened to three days of vacation, including a Staff Development day, rather than a full week off of school. This change, though, will only affect current sophomores and freshman.

Superintendent Elliott Landon noted that this change was due to the introduction of a “uniform calendar,” one that is mandated and the same throughout the region.

“The ‘uniform school calendar’ for the area, which includes Westport, allows for only two [full] vacation periods; one in December and the other in April,” Landon said.

Students are already reacting to this news, and their opinions vary.

“I think that the shortened break definitely throws a wrench in plans for people who like to travel,” Jack Norman ’17 said. “Five days is a whole lot different than nine days.”

Landon, too, was in support of maintaining the full winter recess, noting both its value for students and its cost.

“I have been a long-time advocate for a full week of February break,” Landon said. First, it breaks the cycle of sickness among students and staff. Second, it is efficiency prudent, for when schools are closed for a substantial period of time in the winter, energy savings become significant.”
Other students, though, seemed unfazed by the changes.

“I actually don’t mind that much,” Emma Tangel ’16 said. “As long as we have some sort of break, I’m happy.”

This ‘uniform calendar’ will not only affect Westport’s vacation periods but also how snow days are handled. Landon noted, “There are no snow days built into the ‘uniform calendar.’ We must attain 182 days of students. If we lose any days due to snow emergencies, we will extend the school year by one day for each day lost.”

While significant changes have been made to the calendar for the 2016-2017 school year, the intentions are largely the same. School will remain 182 days, and there will still be some sort of break.

This issue will be further discussed at the Board of Education meeting on Thursday, March 5.