The Haverhill teachers’ union says it’s not only unfair to parents, students and teachers to change February school vacation with two day’s notice, but it’s unnecessary.
Haverhill Education Association President Joseph Cunha told WHAV action by school Superintendent James F. Scully is premature.
“They can call four more snow days and we’re still ok, because the law says you go until June 30 to get your 180 days in. If you can’t make your 180 days by June 30, then you have to do something,” Cunha said. Instead of interfering with next week’s vacation, he argued, the schools can use April vacation days, Saturdays, holidays and Good Friday remain options for makeup days.
Current weather patterns, Cunha said, could cause snow days next week anyway.
“We’re going to hold school at the very time we when we’re having to cancel all of the time. So, what happens when, you know, the people that could, they change their plans and they cancel the camps for their children or whatever you do. And, then all of a sudden, oops, no school today,” he said.
The cancellation of classes at Haverhill High School Friday because of snow on the roof is an example of what can happen, he said.
“Last night, we suggested, we asked, maybe begged, we would like to start working on a contingency plan.” He said school officials refused to discuss such a plan that would give everyone advance notice as to what will happen if the remaining snow days are exhausted.
Cunha said the school department cannot act without union consent or grievances can be filed. He explained the city guaranteed February and April vacations when it asked teachers in 1994 to begin working before Labor Day. Despite the language, he said, “April is definitely on the table if it is needed.”
Haverhill School Committee President Scott Wood called Scully’s proposal to hold classes on vacation Tuesdays and Wednesdays and a half-day on Good Friday “a fair plan.”
Wood said, the Saturday class option is limited.
“The only other options without them agreeing to the vacations, which they didn’t agree to, were Saturdays. Quite frankly, that’s the only thing the school committee has under their jurisdiction, because of contractual language, that they can do without the approval. But that, we just felt, wasn’t very good as far as student learning goes. Possibly not even meeting the requirements of getting enough kids there to have the day count,” Wood said