Editorial: Smart move to alter Bristol Warren school year

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After a nice long break to celebrate the holidays each year, students and teachers return to the classroom rested, refreshed and ready to power through the rest of the school year.

But just as they get started, it’s time to hit the brakes again. After less than two months at work.

After nine days off in February, students and teachers would return to the classroom rested, refreshed and ready to power through the rest of the school year.

But just as they get started, it’s time to hit the brakes again. After less than two months at work.

Such a disjointed, start-and-stop schedule breaks up the school year, interrupts classroom lessons and projects, and wastes time as students and teachers — like everyone returning from long, lazy days on vacation — naturally need a little time to get back into work mode.

So it was smart of the Bristol Warren Regional School Committee to alter the school calendar last year, shortening February vacation to two days. Going forward, students will continue to get President’s Day and an extra day off for a teacher professional development day each February.

Compensating for the long stretch with no vacation time, the school committee voted Monday night to move April vacation up a couple weeks to the last week of March, despite the protests of teachers and a couple students in attendance.

This move should have been no surprise to anyone. The school committee has been talking about altering the calendar for several years, and actually voted to do so a year ago. The committee advertised the agenda ahead of time and held public hearings on the issue, which were covered extensively in the pages of this paper. Yet, from the reaction of some in the audience Monday, you’d think the committee was haphazardly throwing together a plan designed to destroy the American family.

A parade of teachers in the district decried the calendar change, claiming it would raise stress levels, make kids physically sick, inconvenience teachers whose children attend other school districts, and cut into family vacation time.

“Look at the mother and child in Disney,” said one school district employee, showing the committee a photo of the pair with Minnie Mouse. “It would be hard to take that away.”
Perhaps she forgot about those two-and-a-half months in summer that provide ample time for family trips to a theme park.

Others complained that most districts in the state are retaining the February and April model, and because teachers may live out of town, their vacations would be different from their children’s. That’s an inconvenience, to be sure, but one that people working in every industry other than education find a way to overcome every year.

Teachers and a couple students mentioned stress levels that are lowered by so much time off. True, vacations tend to relax people. But so do weekends, holidays, and a week off at the end of March, intentionally scheduled in the middle of the January to June slog. And again, there are those two-and-a-half months.

Despite the protests, the School Committee was right to vote 5-3 to alter the calendar, leading the way for other school districts around the state, who all should follow suit.

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Mike Rego

Mike Rego has worked at East Bay Newspapers since 2001, helping the company launch The Westport Shorelines. He soon after became a Sports Editor, spending the next 10-plus years in that role before taking over as editor of The East Providence Post in February of 2012. To contact Mike to submit information, suggest story ideas or photo opportunities, etc., email mrego@eastbaynewspapers.com.