School calendar changed; Graduation moved one week later

| 15 Feb 2012 | 10:27

    Sparta — The good news for Sparta students is that three more vacation days have been added to the school calendar. The bad news is that summer vacation will be delayed by a week. In a preemptive move by the Board of Education Monday night, the school calendar has been changed to add a week at the end of the academic year to provide a cushion in case more than the allotted four snow days per year are needed. Two of those four days have already been used; one to flooding caused by Hurricane Irene in September and another due to power outages from the surprise blizzard in October. It is a safe assumption in Sparta that at least two more snow days are likely to be used before the end of winter. Last year, seven snow days were needed throughout the year. To make up for the additional days, Spring Break was shortened by three days. This proved to be a difficult predicament for families who had already booked and paid for vacations scheduled for that week, and a problematic situation for students who had pre-arranged school trips through their classes, as well as for the teachers who were scheduled to chaperone them. To alleviate this problem and to keep Spring Break intact this year, the board opted to extend the school year by one week, which fully restores the four snow days. Three additional vacation days were then built into the calendar to not exceed the 180 days children are required to be in school. The additional vacation days include Tuesday, Feb. 21, which is the day after President’s Day, Thursday, April 5, which is the day before Good Friday leading into Spring Break, and Tuesday, May 29, which is the day after Memorial Day. Graduation has been rescheduled from June 15 to June 22. This date must now be set in stone due to the necessary booking arrangements and planning for Project Graduation. Superintendent Dr. Thomas Morton told the board the school principals and staff were in agreement with the calendar change and he asked Sparta Education Association President, Susan Sawey if she thought the association would have any issues with the change. Sawey responded that the SEA would support the change. The board unanimously approved the motion to change the calendar, saying they wanted to make the announcement as soon as possible to give students and families plenty of time to plan for the changes. If by the last week of school all four snow days have not been used, the week will be shortened by the number of days unused, but graduation will remain on Friday, June 22. Notification of the calendar change will be posted on the district Web site at and will also be distributed to parents via emails and Honeywell Instant Alerts.