New School Calendar Removes Three Religious Holidays

Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Good Friday would be removed from next year's school calendar.


North Kingstown students may be in the classrooms for three religious holidays starting next year following a vote from the North Kingstown School Committee. All seven members of the committee unanimously approved changes to the school calendars, removing three religious holidays – Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah and Good Friday – starting with the 2013-2014 academic year.

According to School Superintendent Phil Auger, the new calendar more closely follows the calendar used by state workers. The change would give school officials a great buffer when accommodating snow days, hurricane days and other unforeseen issues that prompt no school.

“I’ve been superintendent for a year and a half and during that time I haven’t called a snow day,” said Auger. “I have, however, called a strike day and five hurricane days.”

This school year, classes were pushed back a day following a picket by North Kingstown’s support professionals protesting contract negotiations and changes, namely the outsourcing of the district’s custodial services. Last year, school started a week late as North Kingstown recovered from Hurricane Irene.

By state law, schools must accumulate the 180 mandated school days by the end of June. If Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Good Friday remain in the calendar, the last day of school for next school year would be June 16. Schools would only have a buffer of nine days to make up lost time from snow days and other school cancellations.

According to Auger, school officials in South Kingstown are trying to determine how to finish school by the end of June after losing nearly a week of school due to Superstorm Sandy this past fall. Auger said officials are considering using vacation time.

“If we had a significant snow event, we would be starting that discussion,” said Auger.

School committee members worried that the removal of these holidays may not be welcome news to some parents. Last school year, many parents were unsettled by the removal of Rosh Hashanah from the school calendar after school officials used it as a make-up day for Hurricane Irene. This school year, Rosh Hashanah was omitted from the calendar. School Committee Member Lynda Avanzato noted that several parents were upset that Jewish holiday were eliminated but Good Friday remained.

“It was an uneven situation,” said Avanzato.

Fellow member Bill Mudge stated he would want to see community input before making the change. According to Auger, he had sent queries out to parents via email and received mainly positive feedback regarding the change. Additionally, there have been several calendar sub-committees that have recommended the removal of these holidays.

Despite the vote, the calendar changes will be dependent on contracts with both the teachers’ union and with the support professionals’ union. Each union would need to sign a memorandum of agreement to allow the removal of those holidays.

OrangesPoranges January 16, 2013 at 10:21 PM
Time to privatize K-12 education across the board, give parents a voucher and let them make their own decisions about how and where to educate their children. Pick a religious school if you want, a non-religious school if you don't. Everybody's happy and the unfunded pension liability will be off the town for good.
We R NK January 17, 2013 at 02:59 AM
Wow, not bad!!!
Politics Sheriff of NK January 17, 2013 at 07:12 AM
rev lori elderedge" is OUT THERE with this incredibly insensitive, callous, ignorant statement "And why not Veteran's Day or Memorial Day? Are we to celebrate the military-industrial complex". this lady just urinated on the graves of every VETERAN who didnt return from PROTECTING HER RIGHT to make a fool out of herself with such nonsense!
E February 01, 2013 at 07:24 PM
Dave, You obviously do not have elementary school- age children in NK - ALL NK ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS END AT 3:45 THIS YEAR!!!!!!! The Supt. and SC approved this ghastly change last year!!!!!! Unless something is done, it will be status quo AGAIN for next year. The change is blamed on the deletion of two buses from the fleet, with more cries that there's no $$$. The school hours STINK at the elementary level!!!!!!!! 3pm the latest???? Don't let the facts get in the way of a good story!!!
E February 01, 2013 at 07:32 PM
My correction - Hamilton and Stony Lane - 3:45.... the others 3:05 - ALL still AFTER 3pm. With children getting off their buses in some instances well after 4:15.


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