A draft proposal from district officials calls for Portland schools to open the Tuesday after Labor Day this fall. The school board will discuss the recommended 2014-15 school calendar Tuesday but will not vote on it.
The issue of when students start school has proven contentious in recent years because while the Tuesday after Labor Day is considered by many to be the traditional start of school, the Portland teachers’ union has argued that teachers need teacher-only work days to get set up for the school year. The union said that scheduling them before Labor Day is a problem because some teachers work in the tourism industry in jobs that require staffing through the Labor Day weekend.
Last year, that resulted in Portland students starting school on the Thursday after Labor Day, after two teacher-only work days. A special school calendar steering committee was formed and issued a report last spring with several recommendations.
The committee cited “overwhelming feedback from parents and the community” in its recommendation to have students start school on the Tuesday after Labor Day, and having teacher-only work days on the Wednesday and Thursday the week before Labor Day. Under the contract with the Portland Education Association, the school year includes seven non-student days.
“Feedback from students and staff was less enthusiastic, but the majority still supported an earlier school year start,” the committee found.
Another recommendation was to end the weekly one-hour early release on Wednesdays and replace it with a two-hour early release day twice a month.
The district is not recommending any changes to the early release Wednesday schedule for the upcoming school year, according to the draft proposal from Chief Operations Officer Peter Eglington.
The district is also proposing that the winter holiday break run from Wednesday, Dec. 24, through Friday, Jan. 2, to avoid having students return to school for only one day. Students would return to class on Monday, Jan. 5.
Noel K. Gallagher can be contacted at 791-6387 or at: