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Parents: Delayed Openings Cause Hardship to Some

Parents complain about five delayed openings, LaSusa says a solution is coming soon.

When the approved the calendar for the 2011-12 academic year, it exchanged one full inservice day for five delayed openings throughout the year.

The first is on Friday, Oct. 28, with the remaining dates on Dec. 2, Feb. 3, April 27 and June 1, all Fridays.

Dr. Michael LaSusa, the assistant superintendent in the district, said new regulations from the state include several mandatory two-hour training sessions, such as a training on the new anti-bullying policy (which staff will attend Monday), two-hour training on suicide prevention and a new model of professional development from the state level, which involved regular meetings throughout the school year for staff "to work on school-wide goals relating to student achievement," LaSusa said in an email to Chatham Patch.

These come in addition to department meetings, faculty meetings, grade-level meetings and team meetings, as well as any other state-mandated training, according to LaSusa.

"We believed that more recurring time in our calendar devoted to professional development was necessary," LaSusa said. "We felt that a stand-alone day in the spring was not sufficient to fully and best implement the obligations the state has placed upon us."

On the scheduled inservice days, schools will open two hours late, as they would when weather causes a delayed opening. The result, LaSusa said, will be for teachers to meet the state's requirements "without a material reduction in instructional time."

Nicole McGuire, a Chatham Borough resident whose daughter attends , teaches full-time in Union and her husband also works full-time. Her father often takes care of her daughter before school before he, too, goes to work.

She said the prospect of finding before-school care for her daughter is a financial hardship, and taking time off of work is not a possibility. She also said she did not think there was adequate notice of the delayed openings, since she did not see the first one until she turned her school calendar to October.

"When I contacted Work Family Connection, there were no plans for any childcare," McGuire said. She also said the parent liaison was unaware of the change. "The economy's changing. ... It's getting near the end of the year. You have concerns that you have end-of-the-year deadlines, and employers are going to be looking at Friday [attendance and punctuality.]"

While some families have one parent who stays at home, McGuire said among the moms she knows several have returned to work recently. "I think with this economy, people are having to go back to work," she said. "That change needs to be addressed."

McGuire said she reached out to LaSusa, who responded that school administrators negotiated the five delayed openings with teachers for this year and they would consider making a change for the following year. When Chatham Patch reached out to him via email, he said Thursday the district hopes to have a solution for parents by the end of next week.

"We certainly recognize that this creates ... [days which are] not typical and [require] alternative arrangements for parents. We also recognize that this poses a larger problem for those parents who do not have other options for child care on the mornings of the delayed openings," LaSusa said.

Michael Farr, the site coordinator for Work Family Connection for the district and several other area districts, emailed Chatham Patch after this article was published. He said he and LaSusa had recently reached an arrangement for all parents not currently enrolled with Work Family Connection to participate in child care on the inservice days. The cost is $15 for before school care and $25 for after school care per day, plus a registration fee. He also said there will be no additional cost for those families already enrolled with Work Family Connection.

LeAnn Tavtigian October 09, 2011 at 03:25 PM
Another option that I forgot to mention before is to keep the kids in school and bring in substitute teachers to run the classes while the teachers rotate through the training. Summit did this on Friday and each sub was able to cover for two teachers while the teachers took turns going to the training.
Tim Wills October 09, 2011 at 03:51 PM
Absolutely and the morning is used for instructional time. Students go home for lunch and recess. In addition, while the elementary schools have half days for conferences, the middle school and HS could have half days and do some of their trainings. If a survey went out explaining the situation maybe half days would have shown to be more effective. Every district in the state of NJ is in the same boat. Chatham is not alone. I think it goes back to assuming most are stay at home moms and someone is automatically available for any changes in schedules. I work for a school district that is just the opposite, so we always consider options that would be available for working parents.
Tim Wills October 09, 2011 at 03:54 PM
We have done this too. It worked out very well and the students remained on task because they knew the teachers were right in the buildings. We even had teachers on their preps cover one another. It is an excellent option. Win win for all.
BRL October 10, 2011 at 02:57 AM
EEEWWWW! Why don't you spoon feed yourself a nice heaping spoonful of compassion! What a disgrace.
Nicole McGuire October 16, 2011 at 04:22 AM
The calendar was modified at the May 23, 2011 board meeting. Here are the minutes. Once again, if an modification was made the parents should have been notified. The calendar I printed out and have on my refrigerator is not the same as the one that is now in place for this year. I believe that the parents are owed an apology and people should stop hiding behind the quote "Calendars are released at least a year in advance". Upon the motion of Trustee Connors, seconded by Trustee Nonnenmacher, the board considered the following motion: RESOLUTION (054-11/12)—RESOLVED, upon the recommendation of the Superintendent, that the School District of the Chathams Board of Education, in the County of Morris, New Jersey approves modifying the 2011-12 school calendar to reflect additional student day and addition of 5 delayed openings for professional development. (Attachment F-2) A roll call vote was taken. YEA – Barna, Burgunder, Gilfillan, Nonnenmacher, Weber, Connors, and Belding NAY – None The motion carried 7-0. BOARD BUSINESS

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