Chatham Students to Have School on MLK Day
Interim Superintendent said schools will observe the holiday with 'meaningful activities' district-wide.
The holiday, celebrated this year on Jan. 16, is traditionally given as a day off for most school districts and for many companies.
Days approved as make-up class days are:
- Monday, Jan. 2, 2012
- Monday, Jan. 16, 2012
- Friday, Feb. 17 (early dismissal day)
- Monday. April 9, 2012 (if necessary)
Interim Superintendent Dennis Fyffe wrote a letter to district parents, attached to this article, stating that all district schools "will provide meaningful activities to recognize the accomplishments and contributions of Dr. King." He also noted the holiday will be observed in next year's calendar and "all subsequent calendars."
"Everyone was reluctant to touch MLK Day," Board President Tom Belding said via email. "One advantage of the decision made is that it allows somewhat more flexibility if the winter is rough and more days must then be taken out of vacations later in the year."
The district allows for up to four days throughout the academic year, which is required to have at least 180 days of school. When the Chathams were hit by more than 8 inches of snow in late October, schools were closed for five days because of downed wires, blocked streets and sidewalks and prolonges power outages at all schools and throughout town.
The board discussed a possible waiver from the 180-day school year requirement at the Nov. 7 meeting. Belding said many districts affected by the storm considered applying for a waiver, but "the Executive County Superintendent indicated firmly last week that no applications for waivers would be considered."
Board Member Jill Weber said the board understood the holiday was a sensitive day, but that Board Member Kim Cronin expressed the prevailing sentiment that the loss of so many school days required the board to examine how to minimize the impact to students and family.
"I polled about 25 parents and the majority preferred [to have classes on Martin Luther King Day]," Weber said. "I also [told the board] that Carole Etheridge, President of the Chatham Middle School PTO, polled many additional parents [who preferred school that day]."