The School Committee is seeking volunteers to be a part of an Advisory Group who will meet monthly at 7:00 PM from May through November 2015 for the purpose of researching and recommending a preferred school calendar option. Please click on the following link to complete the application by Friday, April 17.
The School Committee approved the FY15 budget at their January 30 meeting which included a tuition-free full day kindergarten program. A $350,000 placeholder was put on the town meeting warrant for temporary modular classrooms to help house the FDK program. At the February 27 school committee meeting, Dr. Cathy MacLeod asked that the modulars be removed from the town warrant and the school committee voted in favor of removing the article. MacLeod explained the modulars were put on the warrant as a placeholder while 3 different options were researched for housing the full day kindergarten program. The options included temporary modular classrooms, splitting students between Elmwood and Center School or housing the program within the Center School building. After careful consideration of all 3 options and consultation with her administrative staff, Dr. MacLeod decided housing the program within Center School was the best options for the students, teachers and town. Dr. MacLeod acknowledged there will be some space issues within the Center School but noted that this will not have an impact on class sizes or classroom space.
The draft of the 2014-2015 school calendar was presented to the school committee last week. The proposed calendar has the first day of school on Thursday, September 4. Early release days will remain on Fridays. No major changes were made to next year’s school calendar but Dr. MacLeod announced she is considering removing some of the religious holidays for future school calendars. She would also like to see one school break after the Christmas holiday. A possibility would be removing February vacation and moving April vacation to March. This would require working with area school districts in order for this to work as it would impact sport schedules and have significant impact on many teachers’ families who live in the surrounding towns.
At their March 21 meeting, the School Committee voted to amend this year’s school calendar to include an Early Dismissal Day on Friday, March 29 (Good Friday). Five snow/hurricane cancellation days are built into the school calendar, but Hopkinton has had six cancellation days this year, so one day had to be made up. Dr Hiersche presented several options to the committee and recommended the Early Dismissal on March 29 as the best of the limited options available. This will allow the district to maintain the last day of school on Friday, June 28. Continue reading Make-up of Sixth Snow Day – Early Dismissal on Good Friday
In our last blog, we posted a link to the draft school calendar for 2013-14. It turned out to be the most clicked-on link we posted to our blog all year, so we wanted to send out an update. The calendar is still not final, but the School Committee and Dr Hiersche did discuss it in more detail at their February 28 meeting. Click here to view the most recent DRAFT Calendar. The Superintendent and School Committee have received a lot of feedback from parents and many common questions were answered in the meeting. eHop is providing a summary below.
- Early Release – The number of Early Release days is contractual. A new teacher contract was just ratified this week. Dr. Hiersche said that he has negotiated down Early Release days mid-contract before (in another district), but he said, “it is dicey.”
- Starting Before Labor Day – It is also contractual that school cannot start prior to Labor Day unless Labor Day is late enough in September. No other discussion occurred around this topic.
- One March vacation instead of both February and April – Dr. Hiersche had a lot of interesting data on this change as he taught in a school once that switched over to a March vacation. He did note the school went back to two vacations shortly after. The issues with one vacation that he shared:
- MCAS – MCAS goes throughout March. All schools in Massachusetts must take the MCAS on the same days. Because most districts in Massachusetts have vacations in February and April, the best time for state testing is March. View the 2013-14 MCAS Dates set by the state
- They found attendance was low during the traditional vacation weeks in February and April because families were still taking vacations then in order to line up with extended families that had those weeks off.
- Tournament games tend to be scheduled around the vacations and it made it difficult for his district to participate with their competing districts.
- Teachers struggled to find childcare for their children in February and April because some daycare centers close down.
- Removing religious holidays – Hiersche said this proposal would come ripe with controversy. He talked about how we are in the region of Keefe Tech. Many of the schools within this region try to line up their school calendars for scheduling purposes. Some School Committee members suggested perhaps doing a survey on this and other calendar topics next year.
- Prom – The early release day is NOT because of prom. It is one of the contractual early release days but it is conveniently placed on that Friday to eliminate the bottleneck that occurs as a result of the before prom festivities for parents and community members at the high school.
- Tuesday Professional Days in November and March – Area districts place their professional development days on Tuesday Election Days so the children aren’t in school during the busy election day when so many people are entering the building to vote. Every second year, there are no November/March elections in small towns like Hopkinton, but there are elections every year in many Massachusetts cities. The districts take part in a lot of professional development programs with other cities and towns because it allows for a greater variety of offerings and significant cost savings. Therefore, the districts like to schedule their professional days on the same days.
At the February 7 School Committee meeting, Dr Hiersche presented the first draft of the school calendar for 2013-14. Click here to view the DRAFT Calendar. Dr Hiersche made some changes from the typical Hopkinton calendar, such as moving Early Release Days to Fridays. The fall Early Release dates, typically used for Parent-Teacher Conferences, have been clustered together in November, with no Early Release dates in September or December and only one Early Release date in October. Many of the Spring Early Release dates are paired with a three-day weekend. The School Committee is expected to vote on the final calendar at either their March 7 or March 21 regular meeting. If you would like to give feedback on these changes, please email your comments and questions to Dr Hiersche and the School Committee by March 5: