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Parent input preceded city's consideration of start date change

The city’s move to delay the first day of school rather than interrupt the first week back with a religious holiday comes after weeks of a sustained email campaign by parents.

Since late May, parents have been circulating an email to Chancellor Klein calling on the city to begin the school year on Sept. 13. The current plan is for the first day of school to be Sept. 8, the Wednesday after Labor Day. But because Thursday and Friday are Rosh Hashanah, a major Jewish holiday, the schools will be closed. Students wouldn’t see their new teachers and classmates again until Monday.

Michelle Chiulla Lipkin, the PTA president at PS 199 on the Upper West Side, drafted the letter to the chancellor after realizing what she had to look forward to in September.

“I can imagine it now. Summer is over. My kids are ready with their backpacks and new haircuts and they go to school excited and nervous about the year ahead. And then they come home and stay there for four days until they go back to school and do it all over again,” she said. “We all know they won’t remember anything that their teacher said on Wednesday.”

Chiulla Lipkin said she originally sent the email to parent leaders in Manhattan. “It spread like wildfire,” she told me. Patrick Sullivan, the Manhattan borough president’s representative on the Panel for Educational Policy, told me he’s been copied on hundreds of messages. Sullivan had considered introducing a resolution supporting the change at the panel’s meeting on Tuesday but did not.

SAMPLE EMAIL to jklein@schools.nyc.gov

Dear Chancellor Klein,

I am a parent at XXX. I wanted to express my concern regarding the scheduling for the 2010-11 school year. We do not feel as if it makes educational sense to start school on Wednesday, September 8 because schools are closed September 9 and 10th schools. Most significantly, it will make the transition for Kindergarteners much harder than it needs to be.

I believe it would be an ineffective use of a school day and an unnecessary burden on families and teachers considering much of what is presented on Wednesday will need to be repeated on Monday.

I believe it makes more educational sense to begin school on Monday, September 13.

In order to gain that instructional day back that students are in attendance on June 9, 2011, which is currently scheduled as the second Chancellor’s Conference Day of the school year. Teachers can use Wednesday, September 8 as a professional development day.

Please consider this scheduling change. It makes the most sense for the students and for our schools.

Thank you,

CC:
Kathleen Grimm- kgrimm@schools.nyc.gov
Panel for Educational Policy- PATRICKJ.SULLIVAN@yahoo.com
Portfolio@schools.nyc.gov

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