Haddonfield Public Schools plans to start the 2017–2018 school year a week later to accommodate the 2017 summer construction for bond referendum projects at the schools.
The Haddonfield Board of Education meeting saw discussion over the 2017–2018 calendar, as the calendar would be significantly different to previous years. A decision on the calendar was not made that night, as the BOE wanted public comments before it was approved.
Rob Notley of New Roads Construction, working on the bond referendum projects with architect Steve Becica of Becica and Associates, gave the board an update on where they are and where they would like to go in regard to the projects. As of now, things are on schedule. The hope is to have all of the construction document work done by the end of December to be ready to advertise for bids in January. Bids are planned to open March 1 and a contract awarded a few weeks later.
Bigger projects for over the summer include asbestos abatement, the high school cafeteria construction and the stadium. Notley said for the asbestos abatement, no one is allowed to be in the building other than those doing the asbestos work. That precludes construction work being done on the building. Having an additional week for construction would be a significant help.
“(According to the calendar) with school starting in 2017 on Sept. 5, that would be only 11 weeks for construction work… Having the first three weeks for asbestos abatement…There is concern… if they only have seven or eight weeks, there is going to be a lot of second shift work and costs might go up. In order to be more responsive to the budget, having that additional week will give us more relief on the amount of second shift work included in our bid,” Notley said.
Superintendent Richard Perry agreed, saying it is important to give the construction workers extra time so the opening of school wouldn’t be pushed back further with little notice. Also, accommodating for the extra week in advance would allow families and teachers to plan accordingly.
“You have to realize there could be a lot of surprises with construction,” Perry said.
Notley said the bids will include milestone dates, including a cushion of two weeks to get work done before the start of school, so the schools can get approvals required to open.
According to the 2017–2018 draft calendar, school will be closed to students until Sept. 11. School normally opens the day after Labor Day. Major changes include the reduction of fall break from a week to two days and spring break from a week to three days. There are no days off in October. The Thanksgiving break and winter break would not change, as well as school being closed on Martin Luther King Day, President’s Day and Memorial Day.
“The reason for the shortened (fall and spring) vacations is because we wanted to have a certain number of academic days between the first day of school and when national AP testing takes place,” board member Maureen Eyles said.
According to Eyles, this year’s academic calendar has 147 days between the first day of school and the first day of AP testing, in the beginning of May. The 2017–2018 calendar, with the different accommodations, also has 147 days between the first day of school and AP testing.
Perry also assured teachers will have enough time for professional development through this calendar as well. However, the district is working on accommodations for those who need online professional development or professional development during their free time.
The board plans to approve the calendars at its November meeting.