2024-25 School Year to Start Before Labor Day

by | Mar 19, 2024

Calendar driven by election days and midweek Christmas, New Year’s 

By a 6-0 vote, the School Committee Tuesday approved a calendar for the 2024-25 school year that has students starting classes Aug. 27 and ending June 19, with four makeup days potentially stretching the end of the year to June 25 (find the calendar at the bottom of the story).

Asst. Supt. Michael Podraza said there are challenges to next year’s calendar that only come every few years, including state-mandated days off for the Sept. 10 state primary and the Nov. 5 general election, as well as the fact that Christmas and New Year’s fall on Wednesdays. Based on previous attendance rates, administration officials decided to make the December break run two full weeks for students, from Dec. 20 through Jan. 6. 

“It’s a once-every-six-year problem,” Podraza told the committee. 

Another goal of the calendar in recent years has been to try to end by June 18 because of the new Juneteenth holiday on June 19. According to Supt. Brian Ricca, last year the district needed make up days pushing the last day of school to June 20, the Tuesday after a three-day weekend. Thirty-five percent of the student body was absent that last day, Ricca said.

Yet another factor is the four professional development days mandated by the teacher contract that take place on non-student days. The first will take place Aug. 26, the day before school starts; two PD days will take place on the election days, and the final PD day will take place Jan. 3. 

The current school year’s week-long break for Thanksgiving will not be repeated next year. Instead, school will be closed Wednesday through Friday that week.   

During public comment, parent Bethany Campbell decried both the two-week break at Christmas and the decision to start the school year before Labor Day. 

“We are working parents. We both have two jobs outside of the home,” Campbell said. Without family members in the area to help with childcare, “what am I going to do during those two weeks?” 

“This calendar doesn’t work for a working parent,” she said.

Campbell added that her family had planned a vacation for the last week of the summer and now school was starting during that week. 

Parent Laura Gessman raised another element of next year’s calendar, looking for confirmation there would be no after-school activities over Rosh Hashanah, Oct. 2-4 (there’s no school Oct. 3) and Yom Kippur, Oct. 11. Podraza and EGHS Principal Patricia Page both said there would be no after-school activities on those days.

“The two-week break is a very long time,” commented parent Dana Polikoff about the December vacation. She also didn’t like the early start. “Most [people] already had their vacation plans in August set. I think it should be reconsidered starting the school year before Labor Day.”

Committee Vice Chair Nicole Bucka suggested asking parents about their calendar preferences. Ricca said he would plan to implement such a poll early next school year.

“This is the best attempt at lemonade given the lemons we have,” said Ricca. “The state wants us to consider student attendance when we are building our calendar. You’ve got a presidential election and you’ve got a mid-week holiday. The PD days have to be built in….It’s not perfect. It certainly is not. But it checks all the legal requirements that are necessary for us.”

Committee Chair Alyson Powell was absent.

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March 20, 2024 11:21 am

I’m surprised there was no mention of the new banking of minutes policy that went into effect this year. Because of slightly longer instructional minutes per day, the district can “absorb” up to 3 snow or cancellation days without needing to tack on additional days to the end. And, if those cancellations never happen, we actually will get out 1, 2, or 3 days earlier than the last day. So it’s incredibly unlikely the schools will get out after June 18 next year unless we have 4 or more cancellation days, and we likely will get out earlier in the week.


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