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.