Friday, May 24th

Superintendent Provides Calendar Options for 2023-24 To Include Additional Observances

schollcalendargraphicPreceding a discussion about adding holidays to the school calendar, Dr. Patrick affirmed that he recognizes the call from the community and the importance of adding holidays such as Diwali, Lunar New Year and Eid to the Scarsdale School calendar. He hoped that by putting the topic on the evening’s agenda, it would foster dialogue, create transparency of the planning process, help the community to better understand the pushes and pulls that are considered, and offer space for community input before the final version of next year’s calendar is submitted. Since the calendar is usually not finalized until later in the year, there will be time to study each calendar option and provide feedback on the District’s calendar web page or in person at upcoming BOE meetings.

Dr. Patrick then outlined the factors that influence the calendar including:

-State laws, requirements, and minimums
-180 days; 900 (grades K-6) and 990 hours (grades 7-12)
-Certain holidays under the general construction law
-Timing of assessments (3-8 tests; Regents exams, AP exams)
-Collective bargaining agreements (such as with our STA and custodians)
-Tradition, past practice, and values

In addition, Dr. Patrick discussed the factors that make for a “good” school calendar but explained that may differ from stakeholder to stakeholder. Some considerations include:

-Maximize instructional continuity
-Minimize the disruption of instructional time
-Meet federal, state, and local requirements
-Reflect Board policy, including equity, inclusivity and diversity (#0105)
-Honor collective bargaining agreements
-Be responsive to student/family interests, needs, concerns

Next Dr. Patrick discussed sample possible calendars for 2023-24 including an option for a “traditional” calendar that mirrors past practices and options adding new observances. Because some holidays next year fall on weekends, most of the “traditional” calendar for the 2023-24 school year could remain the same even with adding new observances.

Looking further ahead to future years, Dr. Patrick explained that more tradeoffs would need to be considered. While these decisions have not yet been made, some tradeoffs might include having a shortened break (in December, February or April), starting the school year earlier, holding a student day on Election Day, observing only one day of Rosh Hashanah, or scheduling fewer than 185 days, just to name a few.

He then provided five possible 2023-24 calendar scenarios and a link to provide feedback on these calendars that can be found on the Scarsdale District Website here. Among the scenarios are staring school on August 31, September 5 or September 7, and shortening December break to allow for days off for Passover.

Take a look at the possible calendars here:

In a comment via Zoom Lauren Grossberg, Scarsdale PTC President, read a statement prepared by the PTC Council voicing their support for the inclusion of these holidays. In the statement, the PTC council echoed what many other advocates have said, “We are fortunate to live in a diverse community with people of all different backgrounds, who celebrate many different holidays, festivals and cultural events. The PT Council thinks it is of the utmost importance for all community members to feel included and for our students, of all backgrounds, to have an equitable experience. That equity would be vastly improved by adding the proposed holidays; Diwali, Lunar New Year, Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha, to our district calendar for days off of school.” Read the full statement here:

Also on the subject of the school calendar, two parents called into the meeting via Zoom to ask for fewer half days. Chelsea Wang and Dianna Cohen expressed the hardship of having so many half days on the district calendar. Ms. Cohen said that “peer districts” have a median number of 6 half days while K-2 students here in Scarsdale have a total of 13 half days this year. Both parents found this disruptive for both children and parents alike and asked if the schedule could change to minimize disruption or reduce the number of half days for the youngest learners. 

Cohen is circulating a petition to reduce the elementary school half days and/or make them adjacent to weekends or other holidays breaks. You can see it here.

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