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INFORMATIONAL LETTER:  56

POLICY CODE:  ICA

TO:                  Superintendents of Schools, Principals, Career and Technical Education Directors

FROM:            Susan A. Gendron, Commissioner

DATE:             November 5, 2004

SUBJECT:       School Calendars

More than 8,000 students attend Career and Technical Education (CTE) schools across the State of Maine. Over the years it has been difficult for many CTE students to acquire the necessary time on task in their chosen career fields due solely to conflicts between sending school and CTE school calendars. As graduation requirements have increased, calendar conflicts have increased and as a result, many of Maine’s CTE students are losing important instructional time in their CTE courses.

The 121st Legislature passed L.D. 1946, which amended state law to require that school administrative units work with their affiliated CTE schools to develop a regional calendar in time for the start of the 2005-2006 school year. These calendars are to be developed cooperatively in order to minimize the dissimilar days of instruction. (The link to 20-A MRSA Section 4801 (2-A) is given below.)

The legislation also “directs the Commissioner of Education to develop major substantive rules to implement these regional school calendars.” The rulemaking must be completed in time to submit the rule to the Legislature by December 2004 so that it can be acted upon by the 122nd Legislature. The Department has begun the Administrative Procedures Act process and will it in time for submission to the Legislature. A public hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, November 30, 2004 from 2:00-4:00 p.m. in Room 107 of the Cross Office Building in Augusta. The Legislature also will hold a public hearing on the rule sometime during the upcoming session.

The attached proposed rule is an amendment to Chapter 125, Section 6.01(B) (1).,  and it was prepared in consultation with the Maine School Management Association, the Maine Principals Association, and the Maine Association of Vocational Education Administrators.

I want to commend the many school units that have already made strides toward common regional calendars. These common calendars not only benefit our students, they also offer exciting opportunities for joint professional development and expansion of distance learning opportunities. In reviewing the proposed 2004-2005 calendars during the Legislative work sessions, it was apparent that many of you were working diligently to minimize the number of dissimilar instructional days.

For those districts that are having difficulty creating a common calendar, I would like to offer for your consideration ideas that worked well for those units that have developed common calendars:

·        Since the development of regional common calendars is a cooperative venture, all schools within the region created a draft calendar (it might be helpful to create a two-or three-year calendar instead of a one-year calendar)

·        A joint meeting was convened to review the drafts, identify the conflicts and make suggestions for the resolution of the conflicts, such as:

o       Starting school on the same day and scheduling quarters to end together

o       Holding two or more workshop days prior to student start days and aligning the remaining workshop days throughout the year-i.e., one in October, one in November, etc.

o       Selecting one day per month that would be designated an early release day-i.e., the first Wednesday of the month

·        A lead person was identified by the group to develop a district calendar based on the suggested solutions and the group met again to resolve any remaining conflicts

Additional suggestions:

·        Schedule mid-terms in January on the same dates and schedule a make-up day in case of a snow storm

·        Schedule MEAs for juniors on the same Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday

·        Don’t change the schedule if there is a storm day, as this helps avoid implications for block scheduling.

I will be establishing an ad hoc committee made up of superintendents, principals, CTE directors and school board members to assist regions in the development of their calendars should they require technical assistance.

I appreciate your cooperation and thank you for your continued efforts on the part of all Maine students.        

For further assistance, please contact Yvonne Davis, at yvonne.davis@maine.gov, or 624-6730.

Attachments: 

20-A MRSA Section 4801 (2-A)

Chapter 125 Amendment