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School Committee adopts 2011-2012 calendar

April 12, 2011

WEST GREENWICH–The Exeter-West Greenwich school committee voted Tuesday night to approve a traditional calendar for the 2011-12 school year, including both a February and an April vacation and a start date before Labor Day.
There were two versions of the school year calendar that were not approved. One calendar had the school year starting after Labor Day with one vacation week in March; the other had the school year starting before Labor Day with one vacation week in March.
Committee member Paul McFadden agreed with the motion stating, “The committee is not in a position to deal with anything but this motion right now…I do want to consider [a new calendar] next school year.”
The rest of the committee has similar sentiments. Chairperson Gregory Coutcher pointed out that both the Chariho and Coventry school districts are considering the switch to one vacation week in March.
Member Mark Rafanelli said that the school district should have workshops with the other school districts considering this calendar change in the future before any changes are made. He also pointed out that the committee values the opinions of those surveyed on the issue and their answers are not being dismissed.
“I like the idea of a March vacation because of the flow of education,” said Vice Chairperson Teri Cicero, “but I agree that now is not the time.” Cicero felt it would be a knee-jerk reaction to change the schedule now but that the committee should be planning to revisit the topic for the 2012-13 school year.
Member Claudine Pande declared her support of a school year calendar containing one vacation in March. Pande believes that having two vacations, one in February and one in April, disrupts the flow of education and takes away from the process.
Student member Matthew French provided feedback on behalf of the student council. The student council submitted a letter stating that the student body would prefer that the calendar stay the same, including both the February and April vacations.
The committee voted six to one in favor of the traditional school calendar, with Pande dissenting. In other news, members of the West Greenwich and Exeter Boards of Canvassers were present to discuss the possibility of absentee ballots in future all-day budget referendum.
Because of the small window of time between when the school committee votes to approve a budget and when the all-day referendum occurs, it’s not feasible to get members of either town approved as absentee voters and mail them a ballot before the date of the vote.
Both Boards of Canvassers stated Tuesday that they are willing to work together with the committee to come up with a solution to the problem.
A representative from the West Greenwich Board of Canvassers said the only way to have absentee ballots for the all-day referendum would be for the school committee to push back the timeline of the budget but this would require a district charter change.
The school committee agreed to meet with the boards and figure out a solution before the 2012 all-day referendum.

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