The Natick School Committee this week voted on a 2024-2025 academic calendar that retains a full day off for Good Friday, and has school ending on June 18 or 26 depending on the number of snow days used.
The Committee discussed the calendar for more than an hour at its Jan. 8 meeting (see Pegasus recording starting at about the 1-hour, 25-minute mark), then returned on Jan. 22 (starting at about 42 minutes into the meeting) to close the deal. In between those dates, the School Committee had a chance to review a few dozen emails from the public on this matter.
Issues left to resolve heading into Jan. 22 included whether Good Friday would be a full or half day, and whether shifts could be made in November, where numerous holidays and other days off make for a choppy schedule.
The School Committee over the past couple of years has sought to make the academic calendar more inclusive by adding holidays such as Diwali and Eid al-Fitr. The goal, said School Committee Chair Dr. Shai Fuxman, is to have a calendar “that represents all the different communities that form the NPS mosaic of cultures.” The challenge in doing so is making sure that the system can fit in the state-mandated school 180 days and not have kids in classes too far into summer.
The days on which holidays fall on the calendar from year to year complicate the formula, and this year, Nov. 5 is a day off for the Presidential election. The school system layers over its official academic calendar the inclusion of observed holidays that aren’t days off but do factor into homework assignment or test scheduling.
After mulling so-called options 1 and 2 on Jan. 8, the School Committee revised things and selected from options 2 and a new option 3 on Jan., 22, ultimately going with option 2 (embedded below). This edition retained Good Friday (April 18 in 2025), as both religious and logical considerations were made (certain school staff contracts require Good Friday as a day off).
Speaking as a member of the public regarding Good Friday, Father Chip Hines of the Natick Catholic Community described Holy Week as a progression and one continuous service that includes Good Friday, “an important day to us” for fasting, praying and being with family.
In the near future, the School Committee is also expected to review a proposed process developed by a Committee task force for creating future academic calendars.
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