The fate of the extended-year schedule at Saltonstall School, a seemingly never-ending saga, faces one more “final” showdown tonight.
The School Committee is scheduled to vote on a motion to end Saltonstall’s 190-day schedule at a 7 p.m. meeting in the Salem High School auditorium. The meeting was moved to Salem High because a large crowd is expected.
This issue appeared all but over on June 17 when the School Committee deadlocked in a 3-3 vote. Committee member Nate Bryant, in something of a surprise, joined colleagues Brendan Walsh and Jim Fleming in support of a motion to place Saltonstall on a 180-day schedule as the other public schools are.
Missing from that meeting was school board member Janet Crane, one of the original proponents of taking the 10 extra days away from Saltonstall and using the estimated $150,000 in savings to benefit schoolchildren throughout the district.
With Crane in attendance tonight, she is expected to cast the fourth and deciding vote.
Whatever happens, it will not affect Saltonstall’s longer school day. Students at the grade K-8 school are in the classroom one hour longer every day.
Tonight’s vote comes against a dramatic backdrop. Over the past week, a number of prominent city leaders have written or co-signed letters in support of retaining the 190-day schedule at Saltonstall. They include Salem State University President Patricia Meservey, state Rep. John Keenan, Salem Partnership Chairman George Atkins, former Mayor Stanley Usovicz, former School Committee member and ex-Saltonstall Principal Peg Voss Howard, Salem Education Foundation President Janine Matho and Salem Academy Charter School leader Rachel Hunt.
Letters have been sent to school board members and The Salem News.
“We are writing to speak with one voice today and express our strongest objection to the proposal to reduce the academic school year at the Saltonstall School,” stated a letter by Meservey and others.