SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

April 9, 2013

Longer year to stay for now

Board declines to act on Saltonstall School until new summer program proposed

SALEM — The School Committee kept its promise last night to take up the issue of the extended-year schedule at Saltonstall School.

In fact, board members debated the value of the extra 10 school days at K-8 Saltonstall, allowed parents to make emotional appeals to retain it and even voted on a proposal to end it.

They did everything but resolve the issue.

What they did, it appears, is to put the matter off for a few months, or until a committee of administrators, teachers and parents from across the school system can come back with at least a broad outline of a summer school enrichment program that will be open to all public school students for the summer of 2014 — including Saltonstall.

Since it opened in 1996, Saltonstall students have gone to school one hour extra every day and 10 extra days every year, or right through the month of July. The extra hour, or extended-day program, is not being debated and will be retained.

The current debate does not affect this school year at Saltonstall.

While there may, in the end, be sentiment to end the 190-day, extended-year program at Saltonstall by next summer (2014), some board members were clearly reluctant to act until they knew what alternative summer program would be in place.

“It will be a real shame for us to think about just removing this program without understanding what we’re going to replace it with,” said Mayor Kim Driscoll, the school board chairwoman and a Saltonstall parent.

In the end, that sentiment carried the day.

The immediate issue before the school board last night was a motion by School Committee member Brendan Walsh to put all schools on a 180-day schedule for next (2013-14) school year.

It was defeated by a 4-3 vote — a vote that came with some drama.

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