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HWRSD to conduct classes in lieu of April vacation

Date: 2/14/2011

Feb. 14, 2011

By Chris Maza

Reminder Assistant Editor

WILBRAHAM — Students in the Hampden-Wilbraham Regional School District (HWRSD) will have to surrender the majority of their April vacation in order to recover days lost because of winter weather.

The Hampden-Wilbraham Regional School Committee voted on Feb. 8 to have all schools in the district conduct classes for three days during what normally would be the April break, giving itself some breathing room in terms of scheduling.

School Committee Vice Chairman Scott Chapman stated in an official announcement from the committee, "This unique winter has presented a difficult decision to our school community. To avoid extending our school year into the last week of June, we have chosen to recapture these days in April."

Classes will take place at all schools in the district on April 19, 20 and 21.

`There will not be any classes on Patriots Day — April 18 — or on Good Friday, which falls on April 22.

"We felt in holding classes on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, we were creating two long weekends and giving families some opportunity to take advantage of at least some of their vacation plans," HWRSD Superintendent M. Martin O'Shea said.

Before this decision was made, the last day of the HWRSD school year was getting precariously close to June 30. Per contractual agreement, schools in the district may not conduct classes beyond that date. With the current number of snow days, the district's last day of school would have been June 28.

By attending school through the April break, students are now projected to attend their last day on June 23, which falls on a Thursday.

O'Shea said input from staff and parents within the district was sought in making the decision.

"We had done a survey of staff and parents and found that more family and staff have vacation commitments in June than they have in April," O'Shea explained. "We also asked if parents and staff would prefer opening in April or extending further into June. It was about an 80 percent to 20 percent split, with most people preferring to be open in April. Those results were a surprise to me."

Along with the decision will come changes to the contract between the district and the teachers union, the Hampden-Wilbraham Education Association (HWEA).

"We have already begun discussions with the HWEA regarding the ramifications and implementation of this decision," O'Shea said.

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