(Editor’s note: For background and additional information on this topic, check the Independent’s coverage here.)
Last year, a School Calendar Committee was formed that I served on and we were tasked with reviewing if the existing school calendar is meeting the needs of the Hopkinton community.
The committee conducted a survey to gather data from parents, faculty/staff and high school students, and what resonated with me was:
1. The top priority for parents and faculty/staff is “maximizing the continuity of learning in the fall.”
2. Seventy-six percent of parents and 83 percent of faculty/staff said they do not need an exemption from homework or time off from school for any religious holiday.
3. Fifty-eight percent of parents and 73 percent of faculty/staff said they want to either reduce or eliminate non-mandated holidays.
(Note: I didn’t include student responses as it only reflected the high school level and is not inclusive of our entire student population.)
With that, the data tells us that the existing school calendar is not meeting the needs of the community and that we should be considering reducing or eliminating the non-mandated holidays. Therefore, I respectfully do not support the recommendation put forward that ADDS two additional holidays — when only 10 percent of parents and 3 percent of faculty were in favor of it.
On another note, for those dual-income families, single parents who work, and lower-income families where both parents have to work, they already struggle with child care under our existing school calendar. How is adding two additional holidays to the school calendar going to benefit them?
While the recommendation put forward is more culturally and religiously inclusive, it is NOT economically inclusive.
I recognize that some of these holidays on some years do fall on a weekend, and I realize the recommendation doesn’t have a large impact to the last day of school. But adding holidays to the schedule when only 10 percent of parents and 3 percent of faculty were in favor of it — and that will negatively impact working parents and families — in my opinion is not the best recommendation and was not what this committee was asked to do.
The School Committee is scheduled to vote on Thursday, Feb. 3. I recommend anyone who would to like to voice their opinion to attend the meeting and take advantage of the three minutes allotted per person for public comment, and/or you may email the School Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Jennifer Slottje, Hopkinton
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