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Norwalk Shortens February School Break

Norwalk students will spend part of their February vacation in school. The Board of Education voted Tuesday night to remove three days from the annual Winter break.

“We are not going to please everyone, but my recommendation is to use days in February,” said Superintendent of Schools Susan Marks. “There has been so much disruption, and the schools need to prep for CMTs.” Marks added that Trumbull, Stratford, Easton and Redding have canceled their February breaks.

There have been seven snow days to date, and the district needs to make up five days in order to comply with the state’s minimum requirement of 180 days.

In an 7-1 vote, school board members decided that school will be in session Tuesday through Thursday, Feb. 22-24. Students and teachers will be off Feb. 21 and 25. School will also be held on March 25, which was originally scheduled to be a professional development day for teachers. Two additional days will be added at the end of the year. Barring any more snow days, the last day of school will be June 22 for students, June 23 for teachers.

Back-to-back winter storms have resulted in snow days almost every week since the beginning of 2011. As the days piled up, Norwalk students and parents have wondered how they would be made up. To gather the public’s input, Marks posted a survey on the Internet asking whether to cancel vacations in February or April,  or have days added in June. The survey showed a slight preference for making the days up during February break.

Marks said she would ensure a “smooth process” so that staff and students who had made vacation plans would have excused absences.  Board member Jodi Bishop-Pullan asked Marks about the number of necessary staff like nurses and cafeteria workers who will be absent during that week. Marks said she did not know who among the staff will not be able to work that week.

Initially, Marks proposed using four days in February and one in June. However, Bishop-Pullan said she would be “more supportive” of using three days. Generally, she supported taking days away from February  break. “The students don’t need the time at the end of the year. They need it now,” she said. However, she expressed concern about the amount of time students, particularly high school students, who had vacation plans would miss. “Missing four days in high school is a lot to miss.

Board member Steven Colarossi put forth a motion for the three-day scenario. Board member Sue Haynie, the only dissenting vote, said after the meeting she preferred canceling four days during the February break.  Board Member Migdalia Rivas was absent.

Earlier in the meeting, Norwalk Federation of Teachers President Bruce Mellion said that he supported canceling part of February break and had met with Marks twice to discuss the matter.

What do you think about this decision?

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