LETTER: Parents Dismayed at Late Cancellation of Extended Day on School Half Days

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Letter to the Editor (8/8/16)

This morning [Monday], many Watertown parents woke up to some incredibly dismaying news. According to an email sent out by the Director of Community Education Beth Sahakian, there are some major changes being made to the after school programs for elementary school students here in Watertown. These changes are as follows (from an email received this morning):

“THIS IS A CHANGE:  Extended Day will NOT BE OPEN on Early Release Days (March 1st and May 24th)  from 12:15- 2:35PM. You may bring your children to Extended Day at 2:35PM.

Extended Day will NOT BE OPEN on conference days (dates TBD) from 12:15- 2:35PM. You may bring your children to Extended Day at 2:35PM.”

These changes are impossible for working families to accommodate Given that parents already have 20 non-academic days to account for in their work schedules due to the school calendar, and especially given that the district chooses to have conferences for almost an entire week of half days in both the spring and the fall which is a challenging circumstance for many families to work out, this announcement has taken the entire community by complete surprise.

The purpose of extended day programs is to give families the needed assistance to allow for parents to work and meet their other responsibilities as necessary. Asking that parents somehow arrange for care for a 2 hour window in the middle of the workday is unconscionable.

That the district was unable to come up with a more creative solution, finding staffing for those two hours or exempting staff who work both within schools as well as at Extended Day programs to miss time if necessary or provide alternate professional development opportunities for these staff members before or after school (at cost to the district) is extremely disappointing. The parents who utilize the after school programs absolutely would have been willing to subsidize a necessary cost if this had been explained and communicated.

It is Aug. 8, and having a change of this magnitude put onto parents as the school year looms before us shows a callous disregard for the needs of our Watertown community, especially following the concerns that were raised this spring and early summer regarding space issues and the placement of pre-k/K students in our district.

The central administration has lacked basic communication with the community as well as any level of transparency in communicating both its concerns, and its decisions. We ask that those that are impacted by this decision please email all the following email addresses to let your voice and concerns be known:

Superintendent: jean.fitzgerald@watertown.k12.ma.us

Director of Community Education: Beth Sahakian: bsahakian@watertown.k12.ma.us

General School Committee: schoolcommittee@watertown.k12.ma.us

Kendra Foley: kendra.foley@watertown.k12.ma.us

John Portz: john.portz@watertown.k12.ma.us

Candace Miller: candace.miller@watertown.k12.ma.us

Mark Sideris :  msideris@watertown-ma.gov

Thank you,
Wendi Beale
Rebecca Cinci
Kellie Connolly
Jason Fine
Elaina Griffith
Jackie Hogan
Maureen LaRose
Erin Quinn Morgan
Conrad Morgan
Helen Oliver
Amy Parker
Lily Read
Rina Rizza
Kimberly Rudwall-Copeland
Tamara Ley Tsavdaris

2 thoughts on “LETTER: Parents Dismayed at Late Cancellation of Extended Day on School Half Days

  1. Some blame for this needs to be directed at whoever decided to schedule 2 half-days for professional development during regular school days. School should not be cancelled for 2600 students to accommodate the training needs of 260 school employees. Professional development should occur during non-classroom time.

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