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School Board: Calendar delay, member to resign

The Board of Education delayed action on a controversial calendar for the 2020-21 school year Monday night after a member questioned changes she saw as disruptive to the community.

The calendar was redesigned primarily to accommodate a late Labor Day, which falls on Sept. 8. Accordingly, the draft proposes to have faculty and staff return to work on Tuesday, Sept. 1 and students to return Wednesday, Sept. 2. But the students would be in class for only a single day before a four-day weekend that would include Labor Day.

Opening for a single day in September before giving students four days off would not add to their educational experience, board member Linda Eklund said. It would also put a burden on many families and business owners, she said.

Families are used to planning vacations and other activities prior to Labor Day and businesses, like her own Ram’s Head Inn, already lose college staff. This proposed schedule would disrupt family plans and create staffing needs for businesses in the run-up before the busy Labor Day weekend.

Also, a two-week break proposed for the winter recess in December would inconvenience many families accustomed to arranging child care for one week. They could be hard pressed to secure it for two weeks, Ms. Eklund said.

Superintendent Brian Doelger, Ed.D., acknowledged that the proposed calendar is “quirky” and the rest of the board agreed to hold off finalizing the calendar until the next regular meeting on March 16.

Immunization policy

With no objections, the board adopted the state-mandated policy requiring that students receive a host of immunizations to be admitted to schools. The policy the district adopted states that exemptions can only be obtained if a state-licensed physician certifies immunizations would be detrimental to a student’s health. Aside from that provision, students can’t attend classes for more than 14 days or more than 30 days if they are transferring into the district from out-of-state or out-of-country venues. But in those cases, students have to show good faith efforts to get the necessary immunizations.

Parents or guardians of homeless children are to be referred to the district’s homeless liaison who will assist in arranging for the student to be immunized if there is no proof of previous immunizations.

Schools are also required to post educational information on influenza and the benefits of annual flu shots.

Board vacancy

John Klupka Sr., who was elected last May to fill the single year remaining in the term of Elizabeth Melichar, will be leaving the Board of Education within the next month or two because he is moving off Island. Board of Education members are required to live on Shelter Island. Mr. Klupka said he’s sorry that the requirement won’t allow him to finish his term. Had he stayed on the Island and wanted to remain on the Board, he would have had to run in May for his own three-year term.

Two other incumbents see their terms end this year. Ms. Eklund, who has been on the Board since 2008, said she hasn’t yet made a decision on seeking another term, but expects to do so shortly. Tracy McCarthy plans on seeking a second three-year term.