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."

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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