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Post-Sandy School Calendar Lengthened to Late June

Because Superstorm Sandy caused two weeks of school closures, the Wall Board of Education has created a new 2012-13 school calendar with seven extra days.

A new calendar presented and approved at the Wall Board of Education's meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 20 stipulates that the current school year will now end on June 27 for students, one week later than what was scheduled before Superstorm Sandy hit.

The district's schools were closed on Oct. 29 and did not reopen until Nov. 12 because of the massive storm, which devastated the Jersey shore region and caused severe damage and power outages across the state. 

Wall Township is just one of many districts across the tri-state area that has been struggling in the aftermath of Sandy to come up with make-up days for its students. In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie has so far maintained the state's 180-day school year, which all public schools must comply with in order to receive state funding. 

Superintendent Daniel Simon presented the new calendar at the meeting, emphasizing that a lot of thought went into it. Although he recognized that additional days at the end of the year are not ideal, he said they were still the best option. 

"Typically you build in days with the anticipation that you're going to have snow days. You build in snow days. We haven't even hit December yet," Simon told the public, going on to explain this as being one of the reasons the majority of the make-up days are at the end of the school year. Because of the likelihood of snow this winter, two snow days remain built into the calendar. 

Another deciding factor was the anticipated low attendance of both students and teachers around typical winter holidays, which would make it unreasonable to add extra days at these times. Then there was the option of holding school on Saturdays, which Simon said was the least appealing option for a number of reasons. 

"Those are truthfully the very last possible resort," he said. "But we knew that if we really came down to it and there was some sort of a freak late spring storm, or some type, and we had used our two (snow days) we'd know we have the Saturday option."

As of right now, however, the plan for dealing with more inclement weather is as follows: If more than the two snow days are used before Feb. 11, make-up days will be taken from the scheduled winter recess from Feb. 11-15. If additional days are needed after that but before April 1, they will be taken from spring break (scheduled for April 1-5). Only after that will the district look to open on Saturdays. 

"Let's just keep our fingers crossed for no snow," Simon said. "That's probably the easiest thing to do."

Board member Anne Moonan expressed concern for students who already have travel plans in place during the school year's breaks. For some students, she said, having perfect attendance is very important and these plans could affect that.

Simon responded that the impact of the new calendar should be minor, but as Moonan pointed out, there are still issues that need to be discussed. "First we really needed to determine what the calendar was going to be," he said. "After the calendar is approved today, we'll be able to have those conversations."

Simon, Director of Technology Jeff Janover, Mayor Jeff Foster and Police Chief Robert Brice led a public forum on the matter last week on Nov. 13, where members of the public spoke out about their concerns. Nevertheless, public comments at Tuesday night's packed board meeting revealed that not everyone is happy with the new plan. 

Multiple parents called the calendar "disappointing" and not what they expected, primarily citing the extra length of the school year and the amount of half-days as problematic. One parent even expressed concerns about her daughter now possibly having to miss her high school graduation because of a trip she already had scheduled after the school year was supposed to end. 

Simon said that public feedback and comments would also be taken into consideration when the calendar is being drawn up for the 2013-14 school year. Board President John Tavis also made a comment of his own:

"It's just so hard, you know, for [Simon], because as he said in the beginning no matter what you do certain people aren't going to be happy," he told the public. "But I do think all your points are excellent points and make sense, and they're points that [Simon] has discussed with the board... and with the administrators. So even though he doesn't want to get into another debate here, I want you to know that all the points you brought up this evening were discussed."

Alison Gargiulo November 21, 2012 at 05:54 PM
I also attended the open forum meeting and came out thinking the school year would not be extended, primarily because the superintendent stated it would be a last resort because of heat and lack of instruction. When you have so many days off ahead in the school calendar, any of them could have been picked and it seemed the majority of people agreed on a few days from February break and Easter. Extendeding the year is really going to have a negative impact on the seniors, graduation, college and their summer employment. This was not a good decision for a variety of reasons, so disappointed and felt I wasted my time at the open forum, this is why a lot of parents choose not to be involved, their opinions just don't matter.
Allenwoodie November 21, 2012 at 06:03 PM
By the way, I thought the February break was requested a few years back by parents who wanted to be able to go on vacation at a time that other districts were in school because they could get better rates and have smaller crowds than what is experienced during Easter break. We didn't have February break when I attended Wall Schools
lm November 21, 2012 at 08:26 PM
Yes Joe, you are right. This is a one time event. So, lets get rid of the February break this one time to fix the problem. The kids can keep learning in a productive environment rather than at the end of the year when they are ready to be on summer vacation.
Keith Cherry November 21, 2012 at 09:15 PM
My favorite comment is from Anne Moonan about the concern for students who want perfect attendance, WOW what percentage of the student body is that .01%, if it is that important to them they would make adjustments. Not suprising since anyone who serves on the board is usually a control freak nut anyway. Now once again many parents have to take a week off in February from work, how about we think of those wall parents who only have two week vacations throughout the year. One week in feb and one week in december leaves know time for a summer vacation. Don't get me wrong, Simon has done a great job so far, but this call was a bad one. Winter break is a joke, Monmouth County is the only county in NJ to take a county wide winter break, kids are back in school for three weeks after christmas than another week off, they should really rethink this schedule
Keith Cherry November 21, 2012 at 09:16 PM
Just goes to show the intelligence of Moonan.
Michael Ferrell November 21, 2012 at 10:26 PM
So Avon and Spring Lake Heights ae shaving a couple of days off their winter and Easter breaks. Other towns are looking at the same. The logic is it spreads the impact and if we do have significant snows and snow days they could be accommodated more easily. So the new schedule will mean if we have more days off we will have to go to Saturdays or even further push out the end of school. Given the average number of days of snowfall greater than an inch since 1980 in this area is just under four days in the Dec through March time frame, perhaps we should reconsider? Can the board and Super share their research into the weather and snow fall potential?
Mary Burger November 22, 2012 at 12:31 AM
This decision is hard to believe and we think that there must be a mistake. There is no way that the new super Simon, took into account the graduates who have made plans, the fact that the schools do not have air conditioning, buses do not have air conditioning that Ms Moonan is so out of touch that this decision would positively affect perfect attendance - what a disaster.what a travesty. february break - spring break - Was it? If not, it should have been considered as a primary option . If Ms. Moonan thinks that perfect attendance is valued in this day and age of contagion illnesses - well I speak for many that we are truly worried about how in touch she is as a policy maker. When is her term up? Perfect attendance is gone and has been for a while.
Kathy November 22, 2012 at 12:35 AM
I am so disappointed in the superintendant and the board of education. I attended the public forum held on the 13th. It was the superintendent who said adding the days on to the end of the schedule was not a good option because the students needed the classroom instruction time prior to taking AP tests in May and the mandatory state testing for all grades. According to board member Anne Moonan, perfect attendance needed to be considered. What about the attendance of students whose vacations are scheduled for a few days after the end of school? Those students will miss final exams if their families can't cancel their plans. Good Friday was taken away from the students. The ONLY religious day out of all those up for consideration. Remember - the reason students even have an Easter vacation- Religious. Between 12-3 you are not supposed to be out and about. I gave up one of the few nights I have off to attend the meeting on the 13th. The overwhelming majority of people, if not all in attendance, including the superintendant, agreed the end of the school year was not an option. The heat was a factor, the testing was a factor, and 1/2 days added on at the end would be a waste of time. I see why the public does not turn out for meetings. A deaf ear was turned to the public....why waste our time?
Resident November 22, 2012 at 01:30 AM
Lets all keep in mind that there are 294 high school seniors who are going to have to postpone their graduation by one week and all that this will entail. They should be the priority above all else. This is not and should not be acceptable. To even consider someone's vacation plans (or is it really the teachers union) as more important than high school seniors graduation is rediculous. I wonder what the priority of the educational system in Wall if it is not the students themselves? Ms. Moonan needs to get her priorities straight! Perfect attendance, that means absolutely nothing for a student in the long run or interfere negativly with 294 graduating senior? You made a really dumb statement and decision!
Laura November 22, 2012 at 01:52 AM
Wall's February break happens because Wall does not get the the one day holidays off like other schools do. Wall combines those days into one week. The Wall calendar is also two days longer than other schools. If there are no snow days or closures for other reasons, the students attend school for the two extra days. We all know how extraordinary and unusual the circumstances were for Sandy and then the snow storm that added insult to injury. In any case, compared to the great losses sustained to many of our families and friends, all of this bickering seems trivial. I wonder how many people would be complaining if the State had allowed special dispensation for the loss of some of the school days and it did not affect the school calendar? There is a question we can all ask ourselves. Mr. Simon and the Board would meet opposition no matter what decision was made and I don't envy their position. The negative statements about Wall and its schools are very upsetting to read.......
Resident November 22, 2012 at 02:23 AM
Thanks Captain Obvious, you really cleared everything up with your explanation of how Wall builds the school calendar. My senior and his classmates will feel so much better now. You have obviously completely missed the point. Also, please don't waste your time wondering if people would be complaining if we didn't have to make up the lost days as ii can promise you if there was not this issue people would not be debating it. One more thing, if this is too upsetting for you to read than DON'T. You know you actually may have a future on the Wall Board of Ed, so keep your chin up.
Kathy November 22, 2012 at 02:49 AM
Many people are upset because it was brought to their attention by Mr. Simon during the public forum that the students needed to regain the educational days before AP & state testing. Perhaps you can also recall last year in June how hot it was. Certainly not a very healthy or good learning environment in 90 degree weather in classrooms where some windows wont open. That the school puts all the days together into the more than one week Feb. break has no bearing. Mr. Simon could not appease 100% of the school community, but the make up days could have been spread across both breaks with possibly one added at the end. Instead most of the burden is placed on the older students, whose graduation will be delayed and who may loose there opportunities to work this summer. Remember, a lot of the summer jobs were also lost with Sandy and finding one will be much more difficult this year. The summer jobs are given more freely to students who are available earlier - that is one of the main reasons CBA tailored there schedule for an earlier closing years ago. Finances are not trivial to all of us in this economy. I don't believe this was Mr. Simons decision, he clearly stated multiple reasons why the end of the school year was not a good option. So who really has the power to make these decisions........
Allenwoodie November 22, 2012 at 04:58 AM
It shouldn't have been a hard decision to just eliminate the February break in order to create a larger chunk of learning time in order to make up for 2 continuous weeks of lost time. Anyone with vacation plans, reservations, etc could have shifted them from February to Easter break (yes, even our dedicated teachers could). That way the vacationers (which we are not) could still have a chunk of time to vacation. My kids are younger, but I do now understand the predicament of our graduates. Their needs should definitely be given priority over the younger students. No graduate (or family of a graduate) should have to choose between attending their hard earned ceremony or leaving for summer programs, jobs, etc. Let's now hope that the decision makers do their best to keep the schools open unless very severe snow is predicted. We need to toughen up a bit as far as snow days go. Kids in Minnesota and Vermont would never go to school in the winter time if they called for snow days every time a couple of inches fall!
Kathy November 22, 2012 at 07:09 AM
Joe, It is obvious you do not have kids in 8th grade or high school. Final exams. Can't take them out of school for those 1/2 days unless you wan them to fail the class by getting a zero on the final exam. I did give the new board and super a shot. I showed up at the meeting. They did the opposite of what 99% of the public supported at the meeting and what is in the best interest of the students.
Michael Ferrell November 22, 2012 at 12:41 PM
If the major objective is to keep instructional time and prepare students for the AP and other tests then this decision is a failure. The bulk of the make up days will occur too late. As pointed out by others Dr. Simon seems to have failed to hit his major area of concern. This decision needs to be re-evaluated.
Mary Burger November 22, 2012 at 01:24 PM
Michael Do you know if Mr Simon has a doctoral degree? I missed that in his bio. but I agree with you. This must be re-evaluated now!!!!!!! Also I agree with the person who asked who made this decison. I heard that Simon said he would not add days at the end. He says one thing and does another. This is outrageous What was the purpose of the open forum. to pretend to listen. An insult to our time is what it was! I think Ms. Moonan is over her head. Time to step down
Puppet State November 22, 2012 at 01:52 PM
because the board is running the district . robin cevantis says she needs time to do her research, moon-an is trying to win back the allenwood groups she alienated so she can be "make a difference". tavis is finally fulfilling his dream of being a real superintendent. You guys rock! See you on the stage on June 27. it will be hot up there!!!!!!!, poor kids all for a few perfect attendance certificates. BTW how many west belmar kids are going to disney for February break? Oh, thought so.
Alrighty-than November 22, 2012 at 02:21 PM
So If Winter break and Easter break vacationers can just take their kids out of school,Then why all the Fuss for End of School Vacationers,JUST TAKE YOUR KIDS OUT OF SCHOOL EARLY! ! And PS High School half days are done by 11am,So all those Crying Hard working students can still go to work..And PS ,This Town is a Ghost Town every Winter Break,So many many families do go onVaca.
Mary Burger November 22, 2012 at 02:42 PM
Alright then. Have you heard of graduation? It is a ceremony that our students prepare for 13 years/9 years? So are you suggesting that we do not send our kids to school - interesting thought. Is that what the administration prefers? The teachers prefer? I have not seen the ghost town you refer to. I have lived here for 30 years and never saw it. But besides that the schools are ovens in June. Go to west Belmars 2nd and 3rd floors in June. This is a very bad decision. I hope Mr Simon does not have open forums for all of his hard decisions. Maybe we can all just keep our fingers crossed like he said for us to do. Go Wall! Beat (everyone when you can! )
Alrighty-than November 22, 2012 at 05:10 PM
Wall is a giant Ghost town during all breaks. Have lived here 20 yrs, 3kids. When we dont go away during breaks, there is No One around.And im suggesting If braks taken away and vacations planned We take our kids out of school, So do the same for end of year week, unfortunately for those Graduating I guess those Vaca plans can be changed like mine for Winter and Spring Breaks would have to be. What makes end of school yr plans ANY Different from My Break plans. Just saying.
Bob November 23, 2012 at 05:45 AM
Alrighty-than: Nobody's vacation is more important than another. The BIG difference is that the end of school year is final exams. To miss school at the end of year, the students of 8th and 12th grade would miss graduation and all 8th grade and high school students would miss finals. THAT is what makes end of school year plans different. In addition, I live in Wall, do not go away in February and my neighborhood is not a ghost town.
Allenwoodie November 23, 2012 at 02:57 PM
If people want to take their kids out of school to go on vacation, go ahead. My kids will be in school, hopefully learning (but that will depend on the mood of the teachers). The hurricane has devastated families and businesses all around us but the elitists in Wall are whining about losing their vacations. Suck it up and get over it! This is a hopefully a one time thing. We should give up the February break this year so our kids can have a long segment of learning continuity. The kids need this. All grade levels need this. Kids and obviously some parents need to learn that in times of crisis we need to adapt our plans, pull together and move forward. This should be a teaching moment for us all. Mr Simon, please change the schedule and eliminate February break rather than adding time to the end of the school year!! Our kids are not going to benefit from an added week in June!!
Really? November 23, 2012 at 07:27 PM
Apparently "Puppet State" you take issue with people who actually Research rather than just saying Yes to everything the Superintendent says. As for the crack about The WB, you should be ashamed of yourself. Ah but then, what should we expect from one who's name suggests your allegiance to the past administration. Guess your folks forgot to vote.
Michael Ferrell November 23, 2012 at 07:29 PM
The fuss is that extra days will be finals... we can't pull kids out at the end of the year. Its not an option. Get it?
Tom Coyle November 23, 2012 at 08:41 PM
Anytime Puppet State, or anybody else, wants to meet for a cup of coffee and discuss the difference between "West Belmar kids" and any other kids in this town, I will be happy to oblige.
Cathi November 23, 2012 at 08:58 PM
Puppet State, it's a good thing you don't use your real name on this site. I proudly live in West Belmar and my children just started to attend WB school this year. What an ignorant comment you made about WB kids not going to Disney for Feb break. Maybe it's "your" part of town that can't go to Disney as every other house is in foreclosure??
THEKIDSFINISHLAST December 01, 2012 at 03:04 PM
Who are you? That someone would want to meet you for coffee to discuss kids anytime. This is a bunch of bull. The first hard decision the New BOE and New Superintendent had to make. They failed the student again. They "ALWAYS" put everyone and everything first before the students. Why? More like the faculty wanted to keep February and Easter Break. They would not make this hasty decisions when it came to their raises and benefit time. The NEW BOE AND SUPERINTENDENT CAN'T STAND UP TO THESE UNGRATEFUL INDIVIDUALS THAT SHOULD BE HAPPY THEY HAVE A JOB! This is SO UNFAIR TO THE GRADUATING CLASSES. Those who don't have any graduating don't care, if they did they would be bitching to. If it doesn't personally affect you. Who cares about all others? STAND UP FOR THE STUDENTS FOR JUST ONCE!
THEKIDSFINISHLAST December 01, 2012 at 03:22 PM
When are all these BOE members along with others in different town do what if right for the students? These educators and their friends wonder why so many question the decisions that are being made from them. What is it going to take for them all to be morally honest. They wonder why they are under attack. Our governor is trying to change what the educational world is lacking. What he does not understand it will never change with the Leaders, the BOE members and some of the parents who are giving their approval of support on what is taking place by going right along with the wrong that is known and taking place.
tm December 01, 2012 at 04:40 PM
I totally agree. The BOE makes a bad decision and this town doesn't even protest it other than a few comments on here. Even the article in the Coast Star barely mentioned that parents are upset. Some things never change.
VERYDISAPPOINTED December 03, 2012 at 03:02 AM
You are right. Some things never change. This New Superintendent failed big time. He said he was not going to add on to the end of the year do to graduation, to mess up the students schedules. He did the exact opposite. I know the BOE is supposed to make the decisions even thought 95% don't. If the BOE truly made the decisions on the make up days, than they are wrong and not thinking about the kids or the importance of graduation schedules. He should have persuaded them to take it away from February and Spring break. If those who want to pull their kids out they could have.

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