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Chatham Students to Have School on MLK Day

Interim Superintendent said schools will observe the holiday with 'meaningful activities' district-wide.

The voted 5 to 3 to approve three extra days of school to make up for , including holding classes on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

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 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 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 PTO, polled many additional parents [who preferred school that day]."

Junco November 29, 2011 at 05:04 AM
Why is everyone complaining about mlk day??? MY FRICKIN WINTER VACATION JUST GOT CUT SHORT!
Duncan Munchkin November 29, 2011 at 02:43 PM
No doubt that the in-class recognition will consist of play a BrainPop video on the smart board, after which we can get back to the real business of the Chatham schools which is raising money for the PTO.
Publius January 16, 2012 at 04:04 AM
Whether it be about a holiday or not, this matter was not taken situationally. We technically used 4 snow days, and we already made up one of them. We work our butts off every single day in school, and guess what? we deserve a day off every once in a while. the snow storm were stressful days for many families without heat and power. So to respond to previous remarks, shortening the school year is a perfectly liable discussion topic. you parents arent the ones up until the wee hours of the morning doing homework, and i honestly think that you all forget what its like to be 14-18. i hope you all realize the teaching staff is going to be just as ticked off as the students, and productivity is going to be at a bare minimum people. secondly, yeah, R swanson, it is rascist. it shows a lack of prioritization amongst the town. this is a federal holiday for a reason. the government said that students shouldnt be in school, for A REASON. its not like this should be an optional matter. i leave off with the note that everytime you people make a decision, remeber what it was like to be a teenager. to know what it felt like to be able to sit in bed and relax on a sunday night, knowing that you can relax because theres no school tomorrow. so go ahead. take away our days off. nothings gunna get done, and i doubt many are going to show up. your loss.
Student January 16, 2012 at 04:41 AM
Honestly, I really don't want to go to school tomorrow because I'm tired and I am going to stay up late doing homework. But in the long run, I am happy that we have school because I am taking several AP courses, and in those courses my teachers have a tight day-to-day schedule. Putting in the lost days before the AP tests in May is really important to me. Unlike what some people think, my classes will be very productive tomorrow. I would also like to mention that my English class tomorrow will be analyzing Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech, which I expect to entail more discussion about Dr. King's acheivements than anything I would be doing on a day off.
Student01 January 16, 2012 at 04:45 AM
There will be no recognition at Chatham High School. I along with my peers with be spending the federal holiday taking tests. Also last Friday teachers briefed classes about what we will be learning on the 16th and none of it related to MLK. If we are going to have school at least have an assembly or restrict teachers from giving assessments, this is absolutely ridiculous. All the parents saying its better to have school are ignorant. Is it really better to have your child stay up until 1am studying and losing much needed sleep? No. If the New York Times or some other newspaper caught wind of this, they would rip Chatham apart. Chatham would look like a racist town, which would ruin our current prestigious title. Way to play into the stereotype Board of Ed.

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