A draft of the Montclair school district’s 2023-2024 calendar presented earlier this month will likely undergo edits, after school board and community members expressed concern over its high number of shortened days for students.

The calendar draft, which passed its first reading at the Montclair Board of Education’s Feb. 1 meeting, included 187 staff days and 183 student days. It also featured 22 shortened, or abbreviated, days for students. In the 2022-2023 calendar, there are 18 shortened days scheduled. The shortened days are about five hours long, about an hour and a half shorter than full-length school days. 

The draft was the result of collaboration across the district, Brian Fleischer, chair of the board’s calendar committee, said at the Feb. 1 meeting. It was composed with advice from school and district administrators, the board, staff, the Montclair Education Association, parents, caregivers and the local community, he said. 

“It's impossible to develop a calendar that everybody is going to be happy with, but we put our best efforts into addressing as many of the concerns that have been brought to our attention as we were able to,” Fleischer said.

The shortened days are a result of the planning and curriculum meetings required by the district’s collective bargaining agreement with the MEA, as well as parent-teacher conferences, Fleischer said at the Feb. 1 meeting. But the shortened days would have an impact on the district community, he said. 

“It’s a large number of abbreviated days, and it does burden families,” Fleischer said. 

The high number of shortened days in the calendar draft has concerned some parents, board president Allison Silverstein told Montclair Local this week. Silverstein shared her own misgivings about the half-days at the Feb. 1 meeting. 

“As a working parent whose kids are no longer in after care, I see how these early dismissal days can be disruptive,” Silverstein said. “More importantly, our goal of addressing student achievement is impacted when the children are in the classroom less.”  

While the early dismissal days count toward the state’s school day requirements, they cut down on learning, she said. 

“The reality of this is that every time we have these days, students lose hours of instruction,” Silverstein said. “Our kids have lost so much over the past few years and now every hour of learning seems even more important.”

Montclair PTA Council President Tessie Thomas said that “quite a few people” had reached out to the council with concerns about the calendar draft, specifically the shortened days. 

“This is disruptive for families and creates many issues, including child-care adjustments,” Thomas said. “While it is understandable that teachers need to do important curriculum work across schools, it would be good to find other ways to do that.”

The early dismissal days also make it difficult for PTAs to run after-school enrichment programs for students, she said. 

Other school districts do not have shortened days, or at least not as many, Thomas said. Consolidating a few of the shortened days to create long weekends off “seems to be a better solution,” she said. 

The Glen Ridge district’s 2023-2024 calendar features six early dismissal days, and all but one of those days come before a long weekend or holiday break. South Orange-Maplewood’s 2023-2024 calendar includes 14 early dismissal days, and Livingston’s calendar features only four partial days for all students.

The PTA Council is providing feedback and input to the board’s calendar committee, Thomas said.

The calendar is being further reviewed by district administration and “will likely be edited,” Silverstein said. If edited, the calendar will be presented again for a first reading, she said.

“I am hopeful that a new version that addresses some of the concerns raised will be presented instead,” Silverstein said. “As for the specifics and when that will happen, I do not know.”


Board members heard from some parents that they would love to see the district extend the weekends around President’s Day or Memorial Day, but they also heard about the importance of ending the school year before the last week in June, Fleischer said.

“So many summer camps and summer activities and other things that parents pay money for or that their kids are really excited about are starting, and we didn't want to create that conflict,” Fleischer said.

The final day of the 2023-2024 school year and Montclair High School graduation were scheduled for Thursday, June 20, 2024. 

After conversation with the MEA, the calendar draft includes early dismissal on the Friday before both President’s Day weekend and Memorial Day weekend, Fleischer said. And if by May 15, 2024, the district decides that the built-in snow days are not necessary, they may still cancel school the Friday before Memorial Day weekend, Fleischer said.

“We weren't able to extend President's weekend, extend the Memorial Day weekend, recognize the holidays we've committed to recognize and leverage the full day professional development days,” he said. 

One source of pressure on the calendar – elections – pose a particularly difficult challenge for the 2023-2024 school year.

There are three separate election days during the 2023-2024 year: statewide elections on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023, municipal elections on Tuesday, May 14, 2024, and the presidential primaries on Tuesday, June 4, 2024. 

Based on security concerns, voiced by district families and the district’s security consultant, students will not be in school during election days, Fleischer said. 

“We've made a determination based on that risk that we're not going to have schools open,” Fleischer said.  

Districtwide professional development is planned on Nov. 7, 2023, but on the other two election days, the district will be closed, according to the calendar draft. The professional development can take place in buildings not being used for the election, Fleischer said. 

The district has discussed the possibility of not holding elections in schools with Essex County officials in the past, and “they’ve been very resistant,” Fleischer said. 

“But it is a burden on our school calendar, on our school year, and I think they would have to understand the security risks involved,” he said. “So it is a conversation that we’re hoping to continue.”

Felice Harrison-Crawford, the assistant superintendent of operations and school support services, will be following up with the county, Fleischer said.

Over the past few years, the district has also added additional cultural and religious holidays to its calendar — Juneteenth, Diwali, Lunar New Year and Eid al-Fitr. These holidays join others that have been observed in the district for years, including Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah, Good Friday and more. In the 2023-2024 year, many of the holidays happen to fall on weekends, so the district will be closed only on Eid al-Fitr, Yom Kippur and Good Friday, according to the draft.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly noted the final day of the 2023-2024 school year and Montclair High School graduation on June 24, 2024.