WOOD RIVER JUNCTION - A new calendar for the Chariho Regional School District that will consolidate spring vacation weeks and make summer come earlier will be implemented during the 2012-2013 school year.
The new calendar will do away with the 1-week vacations in February and April and feature a single 1-week vacation in March. In addition, the school year will be shortened by one week in June.
School Committee Member Richard Vecchio introduced the idea to the committee at the Oct. 25 meeting. He said he first introduced it a year ago to get the wheels moving, but the proposal really caught traction this year.
"I was trying to think outside the box," he said.
Vecchio said that the second and third weeks of June are usually mostly make-up days, and do not serve as good learning environments. Also, that snow days in January or February turn out to be lost days if they are made up in June, a time when student minds may start to shift away from books and towards the approaching summer.
"Not a lot of productive learning is going on in those last couple of weeks," he said. "Teachers and students do not want to be in a hot classroom."
Chariho Supt. Barry Ricci agrred that shortening the month of June could provide a benefit to students and teachers alike.
"If we could get out really early in June, people would be very happy," he said.
Along with shortening the month of June, Vecchio believes that another benefit of the new calendar will be the continuity provided by having only one extended break after the Christmas holiday as opposed to two.
The new calendar will create two chunks of un-interupted school time of roughly 11 weeks, one of which between Christmas break and the new March vacation, and the other from then until the end of the school year.
"Those are optimum learning weeks in February with limited interruptions," Ricci stated.
A third practicality created by the new calendar, as pointed out by Vecchio, is the facilitation of parental arrangements during school vacations. Considering there will be only one week off instead of two, it could give parents an easier time arranging plans with their children.
"If you've ever tried to book a flight during February vacation, you know that it is difficult and expensive," he said.
Vecchio said that the committee tried to gauge interest in the calendar change with an online poll. He said that parents were in favor, teachers were about split, and students seemed to be opposed. However he said that he believes the students will "absolutely" respond well to the new calendar once it is in place.
The school committee approves each year's calendar annually, but the old format with two 1-week vacations has been in place "probably forever," Ricci joked, adding that in the 30 years he has been with the school district, it has remained the same.
"We think it's worth trying out for a year," he said.