By Katina Caraganis
TOWNSEND -- The North Middlesex Regional School Committee authorized moving four remaining half-day professional days to the last week of school, and instead making those four days full school days to make up for the large number of snow days used.
The four days initially proposed as professional development days are Friday, April 29, May 10 and May 24 and will be extended to four full-length days. The professional development hours scheduled for those four days will instead be made up during the last week of school.
Superintendent of Schools Joan Landers told the School Committee Monday night that by doing this, students will still be going to school until June 28, but they do not have to worry about going to school into July.
Landers said she asked parents, students, teachers and community members to weigh in on multiple potential options for making up the large number of school days, including going to school Tuesday through Thursday of April break, moving the half days to the end of the year, doing nothing, and possibly going to school on Saturdays.
"There was an overwhelming response to move around the half days and make them up that day," she said. "Realistically, Saturday school was not an option. We also noticed that many families and teachers had planned to go away during April vacation, and they've all earned the opportunity to go away. We had to weigh the educational opportunities of going to school that week knowing that many of our students and teachers would not be here.
School Committee member Arnie Silva said sending students to school during April vacation would cost the district a lot of money in terms of hiring substitutes, and reconfiguring the half days made the most financial sense.
Landers agreed, saying there were lots of concerns raised about going to school during a scheduled break.
"Parents were concerned about the choppiness in education by going to school during break," she said. "All schools would be complying with time on learning as laid out by the DESE."
She said that she's hopeful she won't have to cancel school any more during this school year.
"Obviously none of these options are ideal with going to school until the 28th. The forces were against us with snow days," she said.
Follow Katina Caraganis on Twitter @kcaraganis.