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'Insensitive' School Calendar to be Reconsidered

Next school year set to begin on second day of Rosh Hashanah.

After receiving numeorus complaints about the 2013-14 school year starting on the second day of Rosh Hashanah—and on a Friday—the Hillsborough Board of Education will reexamine the 2012-13 school calendar.

In addition to possible changes to the Sept. 6 starting date, the board may be changing the schedule for classes in the first week of November, if discussions to consolidate local elections at the high school lead to changes in voting locations. 

Both topics came up at Monday's board meeting, with two residents chiding the board for opening school on the second day of Rosh Hashanah, including Toby Kansagor, a former supervisor in the district.

"As a member of the Jewish community of Hillsborough, I consider this calendar to be insensitive and insulting," Kansagor said.

She also noted the day will most likely be of little educational value.

Board President Thomas Kinst noted the board faced several challenges in writing the calendar, and followed previous practice for opening on the second day of Rosh Hashana.

But one challenge in the school calendar that could be changed to yield the extra day needed to enable the schedule to be changed to begin on Monday, Sept. 9, instead may be if classes are held Nov. 5—Election Day.

Hillsborough schools have served as polling locations in recent years, but discussions between school and township officials could begin the process of consolidating polling at the high school.   

"We had kind of a unique experiment this year because of the storm," Superintendent Jorden Schiff said. Dr. Schiff said with four of the district's five grade schools without power on Election Day, thanks to Hurricane Sandy, voting was moved to the high school, and reportedly went well.

Dr. Schiff's comments followed a report by board member Greg Gillette on discussions already held between school and the township about changing the polling locations because of complaints and safety concerns some parents expressed following primary voting in June.  

Board members noted that changing the polling locations to the high school would enable schools to be open on Election Day, adding the extra day to the school calendar needed to allow the opening to move to Sept. 9.

Fred Garvin November 27, 2012 at 06:28 PM
Why not take away one of the holidays like they did with Columbus Day? How about MLK day? Yeah right!!!
elidonnelly November 27, 2012 at 06:40 PM
If school is in session where are voters to park? Even with no students/teachers present at the high school parking was very hard to find.
Wanda Goldsworthy November 27, 2012 at 07:03 PM
School could start earlier in the year - the last week of August for instance, so without a week off in Nov. - 2 days for convention, 2 days for Thanksgiving - why do the teachers or students need a week off that early in the school year? I think the school year could be longer at the end of the year as well - most schools in Europe go longer in the year, have longer days, and many go on Saturdays as well.
Mimma November 27, 2012 at 09:06 PM
Some people value the time they spend as a family and treasure those moments that will be gone in a blink of an eye.
Judith Ferrazzano November 27, 2012 at 09:16 PM
I'm an educator in another district,and I agree no one needs a week off at the beginning of November. It's a waste of school days, especially since we don't know what winter has in store. However, going longer at the end of the year is not do-able either. The buildings hold a lot of heat, and contrary to most people's perception, they are NOT air-conditioned. I'm not just whining about my own discomfort...it's next to impossible to accomplish anything academically when you put 20-25 squirmy, uncomfortable, cranky 6, 7, 8 or 9 year-olds into an over-heated classroom, and expect them to not only behave, but also to learn. Temperatures in some rooms can reach the 90's. So, yes, we can save days here and there, but please don't suggest we go longer into the summer. There are some years that we have all to do just to make it to the last day.

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