Amid questions about the length of the school year, and giving appropriate notice to parents, the Wauwatosa School Board approved a 2013-14 school calendar that will have classes beginning Sept. 3, the day after Labor Day, and ending June 17, 2014.
With Easter 2014 falling late - April 20 - spring break will be the week preceding it, from April 14 to 18, instead of the more common week following Easter. Winter break will begin Dec. 23, with school resuming Jan. 2.
The planned calendar has 180 days of instruction. Including snow make-up days and teacher in-service days, there are 192 scheduled days in the calendar.
Elementary school conferences will be held Oct. 10 and Oct. 15. Middle school conferences will fall on Oct. 15 and Oct. 23, while high school conferences are scheduled for Oct. 17 and Oct. 22. All conferences are scheduled from 4:30 to 8 p.m.
New teachers will be welcomed, and mentors trained, beginning Aug. 19.
By state law, public school districts cannot begin school before Labor Day - an important weekend to tourism interests. At last week's School Board meeting, Superintendent Phil Ertl expressed frustration at the requirement, as it reduces flexibility in setting the district's calendar.
Board member Anne Fee said she had received input from parents concerned that the school year is getting longer. Board member Mary Jo Randall said she had received similar comments. Fee said she contemplated recommending a reduction in the number of teacher development days, but decided the days were needed given the increasing demands placed on teachers.
Director of Human Resources Dan Chanen, who put the schedule together, said the actual school year is only one day longer than it has been - growing from 191 to 192 - related to an elimination of half days.
Chanen said summer school start and end dates are not yet fixed.
Randall said she was concerned that the board approved a calendar that parents didn't really get a look at until the school year started, except for those few who attended the School Board meetings. Hers was the lone vote against approval of the calendar.
Parent Stacy Lynch, who addressed the board, agreed that notice was lacking.
"Most parents don't get to see these calendars until they're out," she said.
Lynch also said the school year felt long. For students in summer school, and who also participate in fall athletics, which begin in mid-August, there's hardly time for a family vacation, she said.
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