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April School Vacation is Back in Westford

On a 5-2 vote, the School Committee decided to restore April 17 and 18 as days off, reversing a decision in November made following early year school cancellations.

A full April Vacation is back in Westford.

Seeds of restoring the vacation days had been planted earlier in the month after this winter’s unusually mild winter, but the motion passed 5-2 last night thanks in large part to last week’s absenteeism during the truncated February Vacation last week.

Superintendent Bill Olsen reported to the committee that absentee figured varied from averages near 40 percent at to 10 percent at the , and .

During the last meeting, Olsen indicated caution toward reversing the initial decision to take away two days of February and April Vacation came in November after several lost days of school from Hurricanes and unusually early snow storms in the Fall and what was believed then to be further snow days would stretch school into late June.

However, due to the lack of any snow days since the early cancellations, he noted that the last day of school would be on June 15 even if the two days of April Vacation were restored if there were no more snow days.

The only two votes in opposition came from Judith Culver and David Keele.

Culver’s vote came from fears that a reversal would set a precedent for similar vacation day decisions in the future where families may take a grain of salt and wait for future reversals.

“I’m assuming that parents listened to our decision in November and understood it and those same parents understood the decision applied to April and either modified their schedule or said ‘to heck with it’,” said Culver. “We need to consider the families that cancelled those vacations so that they would be here for school.”  

Meanwhile, Keele said his opposition was not as strong as Culver’s, but he noted that the split between families he talked to was approximately 50/50 between those who wanted vacation to return and those who cancelled their plans like Culver noted.

That 50/50 split was in response to School Committee chairwoman Angela Harkness who said that she had not heard from anyone that did not want the return of April Vacation.

Harkness didn’t see the motion as a reversal, but rather as an update on a decision that was correct when it was made in November, but no longer held bearing due to the unforeseen mild weather.

She also noted her view that April Vacation was more significant than February Vacation in terms of families taking vacations, signifying potentially worse absenteeism then.

The dates affected include April 17 and 18.  

Jim Smiths February 28, 2012 at 11:24 AM
"Harkness didn’t see the motion as a reversal, but rather as an update on a decision that was correct when it was made in November, but no longer held bearing due to the unforeseen mild weather" This comment is PAR FOR THE COURSE!!! LOL! Please keep in mind this was to be a change 1x binding change NOT a review later decision. Flip Flop Flip!
Andrea February 28, 2012 at 01:56 PM
This is a joke...you gave the parents a survey asking what they would like to do and now you go and take the majority vote back? Do you know how many families have changed their vacation/child care plans for these vacations and now to make us start all over again? I'm outraged!
Julie C. February 28, 2012 at 02:41 PM
As I recall, the survey results favored adding any extra snow days to the end of the school year in June and leaving the February and April vacation weeks as full vacation weeks. So this reversal of the decision to hold school during the vacation weeks reflects what the majority of the people wanted in the first place. And judging by the number of students absent last week, many people did not change their vacation plans.
Andrea February 28, 2012 at 06:16 PM
I think you may be mistaken...results of the survery was to make up 4 of the snow days in Feb and April vacations. That's why the the kids went to school for 2 days last week.
Kathleen Spaeth February 28, 2012 at 07:24 PM
Perhaps Supt. Olsen and the School Committee can put together a "more realistic and accurate" School Calender for the upcoming School Year (for 2013) taking into consideration that we live in Massachusetts and we can get snowstorms (blizzards and now severe electrical outages) in the winter time. We are expecting a snowstorm tomorrow, between 3 - 6", what will happen then? We should be factoring in Snow Days during the End-of- the-Year and expecting that the Last Day of School will be adjusted accordingly. This was actually what the majority of the Parents wanted, per the Survey, but the School Committee and Supt. Olsen went against what the majority of the Parents wanted by "trying to lessen the impact" by taking away two days in both the February and April Vacation Weeks. I didn't expect that the Parents would send their children to School during the two days (February 21st and 22nd) of the February Vacation. Did anyone else? Next time perhaps the School Committee and Supt. Olsen could listen to what the majority of the Parents suggested?
Local Townie February 28, 2012 at 08:27 PM
I wouldnt bet on it, the super has reversed himself so many times this year (bud driver firing, make up days, no tests in the schools on make up days) or made stances like the no cupcakes in school or handling of contract negotiations with teachers that in many local circles his credibility has been seriously eroded...anyone wish for the leadership of Super Foster these days? What a 3 ring circus in the schools this year!!

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