BASD tries to balance academic, religious concerns
By Jennifer Eisenbart
For the most part, school calendars seem to vary little from year to year.
One of the few exceptions is Easter, and how breaks are arranged around it.
The 2013-14 school calendar for Burlington Area School Districts was discussed at length Monday night at the general School Board meeting, and then approved by a 5-2 vote.
All schools are required to provide 180 days of education each year, and there are a total of 189 contract days for teachers including in-service, comp days and two paid holidays.
The question for 2013-14 is where Easter falls, which is April 20 in 2014. Because the holiday is relatively late, district administrators wanted to move spring break to March 24-28, give half a day off on April 17 for Maundy Thursday and the full day off for Good Friday (April 18).
However, board member Roger Koldeway and his wife Julie, who is a candidate for School Board, voiced objections to the change, saying the change in the calendar did not accommodate the Christians in the community.
“Easter is when Easter is,” Julie Koldeway, said during the public comments section of the meeting. “Is it that big of a problem, or are there different reasons or motives?
“I feel the change would be insensitive to our Christian families.”
Roger Koldeway said much the same thing, adding that, “I know in the district we try to promote family.”
He wanted to amend the motion to move spring break to the week leading up to Easter. The idea was also raised of giving April 21 off, which apparently a handful of local parochial schools will.
Roger Koldeway also said that if the district did not line up its calendar with the private schools, it could be forced to pay for extra busing, at the cost of $400 a day.
While Superintendent Peter Smet did not object to the idea of looking at a different set of days for the break, he did say that the break was set up to fall midway between the first of January and the end of school.
The fourth quarter will start April 2, so the break roughly coincides with the school quarters.
Smet also said that if the board recommended a change to the proposed calendar, that he be allowed to go back and look matters over.
“Rather than try to do it at this meeting,” Smet said. “I don’t want to make a mistake.”
Board member Larry Anderson suggested waiting a month to make the decision, at which point a number of different motions were on the floor. School Board President David Thompson called the vote, and Roger Koldeway’s amendment to change the calendar failed without a second.
The calendar then passed by a 5-2 vote, with Roger Koldeway and Phil Ketterhagen both voting against it. Ketterhagen said after the meeting he did not second the Koldeway amendment because he thought the board was going to send the calendar back for further review.
Editor’s Note: The version of this story that appeared in the Jan. 17 print edition of the Standard Press contained an error regarding the actual date of the proposed spring break. This is the corrected version of that story.