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Reaction to Wall BOE's School Calendar Decision Continues

Parents set up Facebook group, promise online petition to try to change board's decision

The change in the upcoming school year calendar is continues to prompt reaction from those on both sides of a decision to slash a 10-day February break from next year’s calendar.

On Sunday, Superintendent Daniel Simon posted a message to his Twitter account alerting residents that an audio version of the Board of Education meeting minutes was available that specifically covered his explanation of the revised calendar, which, among other changes, reduces the February break from six school days to three.

Days earlier, a Facebook group dedicated to expressing dissatisfaction over the decision was started by a district parent. It has collected more than 100 followers. 

Simon said he tried to find the most educationally sound calendar from a variety of options he drew up and floated past numerous school board committees, the teachers’ union and others.

“It’s not possible, and I’m well aware of the fact that it’s not possible to satisfy every request,” Simon said. “Every family has their own perspective on what works best for them.’’

And some parents are, indeed, displeased with Simon’s recommendation and the board’s decision to codify it.

“I don’t think this is as working-family friendly as they would like us to believe it is,’’ said Mike Galos, of Pennsylvania Avenue.

The Board of Education at its Feb. 19 meeting voted 9-0 to adopt the 2013-14 school district calendar. Members of the board did not comment before the vote, which followed a public comment period where members of the audience railed against cutting the February break.

Among other changes to next year’s calendar is the addition of a half day on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and a five-day weekend – including the weekend days – from Nov. 7 – 12 for all students. Elementary school students would also have four more half days during the month to accommodate parent-teacher conferences, according to the schedule.

“It is evident that the February winter break is one that emotes strong sentiments from both points of view,” Simon said on the audio recording. “In order to maintain the spirit of the break, without extending the school year, while also recognizing the challenges that result from it, the break was reduced from six school days to three school days.”

But the schedule that Simon presented, and the board adopted, Galos says likely will increase the burden on working families, not alleviate it. The added half days will make schedule coordination more difficult for families who try to take individual days off here and there instead of asking for a full week off from work in February, he said.

“Adding more half days is not working family friendly,” Galos said.

Galos said the motivation behind the effort to oppose the new schedule was twofold.

“The ultimate goal is to try to get the February break back,’’ he said. “The secondary goal is to try to get the (school) board to explain why all nine of them voted to eliminate something that has been in place in Wall forever.”

Stonewalled February 26, 2013 at 02:32 PM
What a bunch of crybabies. Waah, I can't go to the Caribbean when I want. Instead of complaining about being inconvenienced, maybe make credible complaints like how much can a kindergartner learn in 2 hours of instruction a day? Those with kids in k have much worse scheduling problems as the current program is not in any way "working-family" friendly. Until that problem is fixed, the rest just sounds like sour grapes.
Tom Coyle February 26, 2013 at 02:42 PM
Must be a slow news day in Wall. A follow up piece of how 25 sets of parents are unhappy with a Board decision? How about a follow up story about the charity basketball game sponsored by the Board that raised over $4,000 to benefit victims of Hurricane Sandy? Enough about Assistant Coach Mike Galos’ foiled ten day trip to Turks and Caicos.
Jennifer M Lynch February 26, 2013 at 03:22 PM
I agree with Stonewalled. I couldn't say much more.
just one mom February 26, 2013 at 03:26 PM
Do parents not realize that that half days for parent-teacher conferences in November have been a part of the school calendar for years? This is NOT a new addition to the calendar
Wall Resident February 26, 2013 at 03:42 PM
I could care less about the February break, we couldn't afford to go to the "Islands"! And also my son plays sports and they had games that week so we couldn't go anywhere anyway. I'm just glad to get out of Wall schools because of other reasons. Maybe that my sons GPA is screwed up because the way Wall calculates. And they are in no hurry to help or change it! This could keep my son out of colleges that he deserves to be in. I'm tired of fighting Wall. Oh and slow news day.... how about the Wall Hockey team that is starting the State Playoffs tonight or that the went to the Shore Conference Finals. Ohhhhh that's right it's not football or basketball! So I could care less about a stupid week off. There are kids that are missing out on their dream colleges. They don't even have the same calculations as the US govt. Or the College Board. And all colleges don't re-calculated their GPA!
Bob Jakuc February 26, 2013 at 03:52 PM
Wow, mixed emotions regarding the calendar change. This is my 15th year with a kid in the district and my last child graduates in June so it's no longer an issue for me but we always enjoyed the February break. And my deceased wife, a teacher in the district for 10 years LOVED February break. That said, some of the whining and complaining does border on the comical. But there's another agenda here. This change is part of a bigger effort to standardize the school calendars for all districts in the state. The Christie Administration in a 2nd term will push to eliminate the over 100 school districts in the state that actually have no students at all. Once calendars are standardized, it will be easier to combine school districts. This move will be branded as a move to reduce administrative costs (and property taxes?) by eliminating the administrative positions in the districts with no students and consolidating the administration of the remaining districts. The idea of consolidating services like police, sanitation etc., has waxed and waned over the last few years but look for Christie to turn his current rock star status into political capital as he pushes a consolidation agenda across schools and other services in his 2nd term.
Cindi February 26, 2013 at 04:24 PM
Just my opinion, but the question that needs to be asked here is why. Why was there a need to change the calendar? It is evident by most of the comments including the previous article and those who spoke at the meeting this calendar does not benefit working families. Those working in corporate America do not have Columbus Day, Veterans Day and Martin Luther day off from work. So those are hardships equal to the February break. Not to mention throwing in two extra half days is insane. If the district cut out a break and told the parents that the children would be done with school by June 10th parents would have understood. Instead, parents lost a break, still have to miss work the same amount of days, plus have added half days they must take off of work, and still get out late in June. So again, I ask the question why the change. On a side note- I agree 100% Wall Resident about the hockey. I am a proud hockey mom and swim mom that thinks it a shame how Wall ignores these sports. How sad was it that Brick schools provided buses for spectators to get to Red Bank last week but Wall didn't. Go Wall Hockey!
wholelottanuttin February 26, 2013 at 04:25 PM
you hit the nail on the head!!! get over it!! sooo sorry you cant take your family vacations but my god stop the whining!!!!!
Linda Heine February 26, 2013 at 04:33 PM
If you want to take a vacation in February then do so! We are only talking about three days the kids will miss.
Old mill bulldog February 26, 2013 at 04:33 PM
Tom Coyle - both were in the Patch... and wrong Mike Galos.
Wall Parent February 26, 2013 at 05:09 PM
Whether or not we agree with the new calendar or not is irrelevant. The bigger question is "Why weren't the parents of Wall properly notified of the proposed change?" If that occurred, then a true consensus of the Wall families could have been taken into account. After all, the BOE, who we elect, are there to represent the families of the District. We do not want our BOE to be a rubber-stamp vehicle for the Superintendent or anyone else. The fact of the matter is that the new calendar provides no benefit to the children, the working parent, the teachers, or those who wish to travel. With no real tangible benefit to anyone, why change the status quo? An easy solution: Poll the families in the district via email (much like the survey they took regarding the WIS school day). YES or NO: "Are you in favor of the New District Calendar?" Then you have your true majority answer.
08736 February 26, 2013 at 06:24 PM
Because something has been in place for several years is not a reason to keep it. Kudos to our administrators and board members for caring enough to assess the effectiveness of practices and calendars which have been in place for years. Wall Students who seek summer employment are at a disadvantage because of the late end to our school year. Shortening the February break should allow the year to end a bit earlier, therefore making our young people (and educators) as marketable as those from surrounding school districts. It is not for the Board of Education to determine what calendar works best for families' vacation schedules. It is up to our Board members to determine what is best for our children academically, and what is most feasible. Without February break, students would attend approximately 70 school days between the "winter holiday break" and "spring break". This is not an unreasonable amount.. In order to remain current and well educated, teachers must be trained. A few of the "days off" are actually opportunities for teachers to receive mandated training sessions. Those who are unhappy with how things are done could run for positions on the Board of Ed, instead of insisting to know why certain decisions were made by those we ELECTED.
Cathi February 26, 2013 at 06:46 PM
It would be great if a photo of the Charity Basketball game could be posted (submitted). The event was both fun and a morale builder for the students and staff of the Wall School District as all the elementary schools participated. Thanks for a great family friendly event.
happy February 26, 2013 at 07:02 PM
I am thrilled to finally be rid of that break. I only wish they got rid of the Thursday and Friday also.
Kathy Dweck February 26, 2013 at 08:15 PM
I will get critizised for having an opinion/ but I just looked and they shortened it not eliminated it. So those that take a schedule vacation, their kids miss a couple days that week.
Kathy Dweck February 26, 2013 at 08:17 PM
Criticised
Cindi February 26, 2013 at 08:39 PM
I'm trying to figure out the reason why some families are thrilled that the February break is gone. So far I've heard a lot of misinformation from those that are glad. Wall children are not going to school more days, we aren't getting out of school earlier in June, from what I've read these sporadic days off in the fall do not help working families, including my own, for the elementary schools the month of November will consist of very little learning, seniors will have to have college applications done earlier with added days off and half days in November in order to meet deadlines and God forbid we get a flu epidemic or the typical February snowstorms we are up a creek. Maybe I'm missing something but it seems the people who seem happy the break is gone it is because "they can't or don't go away then. " More importantly I believe the Superintendent is using information from the community that he collected in reference to making up days from Sandy and applying it to future calendars and that was not the intent for a lot of people that shared comments.
Mom of 3 February 26, 2013 at 09:24 PM
Well said cindi
Mom of 3 February 26, 2013 at 09:30 PM
I will keep hope after listening to the recorded minutes that this calendar will only be like this for 2013-2014 school year and we can get our February break back!! Simon stated that the way the religious holidays fall that year it may result in a shorter spring break and possibly a longer winter break!! Lets keep our fingers crossed
Mom of 3 February 26, 2013 at 09:32 PM
Sorry I should have been more clear. I meant to say that the 2014-2015 year could result in a shorter spring break and longer winter break due to the way the religious holidays fall around Easter
Kim Dixson February 26, 2013 at 09:57 PM
C’mon folks. If you send your child to an MCVSD academy, there is no Feb break. If you send your child to RBC or CBA there is no Feb break. Or move to Holmdel and have a look, a real close look (and read the notes at the bottom!), at their ’13-’14 calendar. If they attempted that here there would be a mutiny. Yet we constantly compare our district to Holmdel for everything else. Regarding November, at least we go to school on Election Day. And the half days for parent-teacher conferences are based on the contract. Do we need Nov 11th off? Probably not, but our teachers will benefit from the additional professional development days in the new calendar. I do think the Wed before Teacher’s Convention is a better choice for professional development since so many parents pull their kids out of school that day anyhow. Attendance that day (or even that week) is shameful at best. Me? I’m thrilled with the half day before Thanksgiving since we drive that day to be with family. I vote for a 3 day weekend in Feb, a 3 day weekend in April, and a week off in early March. Skiers can ski, beach-goers can find the sun, and those that stay home have hope of a day over 50 degrees to boot their kids outside. Then get us out as early as possible in June.
Cindi February 26, 2013 at 10:40 PM
CBA and RBC have many religious days off that public schools don't. They have none to spare for a February break. They do not attend more days of total school than Wall. Same goes for the specialized high schools and Homdel. Not sure i understand your point. Manasquan takes the February break and will again for the 2013-2014 school year and their test scores are much higher than Wall schools recently. If Wall had simply taken the February break away and subtracted them from June I think everyone would have been happy.
Cindi February 26, 2013 at 10:45 PM
*Holmdel
That Guy February 27, 2013 at 12:42 AM
According to the latest information, I'm not seeing Manasquan with higher scores than Wall. ( http://www.nj.gov/education/schools/achievement/2013/ ) Furthermore, I'm not sure how you tie in "days off in February" with academic achievement.
Wall Girl February 27, 2013 at 03:03 AM
Our family loved that February break. We did not always go away, but it gave us a chance to be together and do whatever we wanted to. Family bonding time...it's priceless. By then the schools, without a doubt, needed to be cleaned and aired out. If the Super and BOE believe that this is what the majority of Wall wanted, then they were very misinformed. Letters were not sent in and calls were not made to let them know how many people really did like it. Why was that? PROBABLY BECAUSE NO ONE KNEW THE WHOLE WEEK WAS ON THE CHOPPING BLOCK! The February break has been in place for years. We still go to school the same number of days, they are just changed around. This vote seems to have been placed, right after a break, for a reason. No one knew, until the very last minute, that there was even a possibility that our beloved break would be axed. I don't think we have heard the last of this change.
Tom Coyle February 27, 2013 at 02:31 PM
This may be a bold statement, but you shouldn't need a government agency to schedule a week off for you to "bond" with your children. It is not the task of our elected officials to make sure you all hug your kids enough. It is their job to provide a sound academic environment for our children to excel in education. If you can't bond with your kids during the 18 hours a day they are not in school and the 185 days per year that there is no school, adjust your priorities.
wall girl February 27, 2013 at 08:47 PM
You are right....it is pretty bold. Some feel there is an education that is brought to our children beyond that "sound academic environment" you refer to.
Tracy March 02, 2013 at 12:21 AM
I am appalled that we were never notified as parents of Wall. I know some districts have no Feb break but we have always traveled that week, completely unacceptable. Wall Township calls on parents to vote on everything from having a hot dog for lunch or pizza but you have chosen not to include us in the decision.
KathleenKochel March 12, 2013 at 01:44 AM
I was just looking at next years calendar and realized they changed Easter break to the week before Easter instead of the week after Easter. Whose bright idea was that!! Dumb!
Kathy Dweck March 12, 2013 at 03:28 AM
Maybe it has to do with when Passover falls.

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