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Setting school’s start a challenge, thanks to early Labor Day

Setting school’s start a challenge, thanks to early Labor Day

Some kids in the area may return to school this fall before Labor Day. This year, Labor Day will fal

Some kids in the area may return to school this fall before Labor Day.

This year, Labor Day will fall on Sept. 7, prompting school officials to consider starting the new school year before the holiday.

Most districts are asking teachers to return to work the week before Labor Day and students will begin classes the day after, on Sept. 8.

In the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake school district, the Board of Education will consider a recommendation next week that everyone return to the classroom before the holiday weekend.

District spokeswoman Christy Multer said union representatives and administrators have talked it over and the tentative plan is for the 2009-10 school year to begin on Sept. 1 for teachers.

“It’s very unusual for Labor Day to fall so late,” Multer said. “The recommendation is that staff will return on Sept. 1 and students will begin their year on Sept. 3 this year.”

Schools are under the gun to schedule 180 days of class time plus three superintendent conference days and three snow days. The 186 days of school time have to end before state-scheduled Regents exams begin on the last Thursday in June.

Most school districts follow the local BOCES calendar for holidays and vacation days, but when they begin the year is up to the local board of education, according to school officials.

Superintendent Geoffrey Davis of the Hamilton-Fulton- Montgomery BOCES said that this year’s calendar decisions were considered for months.

In the end, superintendents decided to start the new year after Labor Day and to make up the lost time by cutting the traditional February vacation week to a four-day weekend.

Davis said that the Fonda Fair, which concludes on Labor Day, was a deciding factor in holding off the beginning of school.

“Several of the HFM districts have significant numbers of faculty and students that are committed to the Fonda Fair, although some districts may bring in staff [early] for a conference day,” Davis said.

Local school superintendents were asked twice in February to confirm that they would begin that late in September, in part because teachers unions had voiced objections to the proposal.

Amsterdam Superintendent of Schools Thomas Perillo said his teachers’ union was consulted and although they voiced opposition to losing the full week of vacation in February, in the end they agreed to stay with the BOCES calendar.

“If Amsterdam was not in session in February when BOCES’ career and tech center was running classes, our students who attend BOCES would be missing out,” he said. “We really did have a lot of discussion but in the end decided to follow the BOCES calendar.”

At the Capital Region BOCES, spokeswoman Debbie Bush said there was less discussion on the topic.

“There is no formal survey done of school districts, but there are informal talks,” she said. “This year, there is no broad consensus of when school should start in the fall. Each district chooses when the students will be at school.”

She said some districts dismiss classes on Jewish holidays and others don’t, while most local districts follow the BOCES calendar for vacation weeks in December, February and April.

In Niskayuna, teachers will return to school Sept. 1-3 for conference days and the children will be in classrooms on Sept. 8.

For the Warren-Saratoga-Washington-Hamilton-Essex Counties BOCES, the calendar year begins on Sept. 2 for teachers and Sept. 8 for students, according to Tara Sullivan, coordinator for communication services.

But local districts can choose for teachers to spend more than one day at school before classes resume.

In the Ballston Spa school district, spokesman Stuart Williams said teachers will be required to attend two conference days before Labor Day.

Stillwater Superintendent Stanley Maziejka said that in addition to the Sept. 2 superintendent’s day, staff will also report without students on Sept. 8, with classes resuming on Sept. 9.

“I simply addressed it with our union president and we agreed to start prior to Labor Day,” he said.

Each school district will distribute a calendar that specifies what days staff and students are to attend school. Some of the districts have already posted the information on their Web sites.

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