Saugus School Board discusses upcoming fall break

File photo of the Saugus Union School District.
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Approximately 100 representatives from the Saugus Teachers Association attended the Saugus Union School District board meeting Tuesday to voice their concern over the possible cancelation of future fall breaks.

“We’re talking about the October break, which is five days,” said Debbie Rocha, the STA president. “We feel this a push to match us with the Hart High School (District).”

However, the five-day school break held every year during the fall is used as a valuable work period for teachers who are planning out lesson plans and the curriculum standards they will need to meet by the end of the third trimester of the year, according to Rocha.

“We do a reporting period three times, we do parent-teacher conferences that they don’t do,” said Rocha. “We’re not high schools and we’re not junior highs.”

According to school administrators and board members, the district has not solidified anything currently, but says there have been members of the public who have reached out and asked them to take steps that would align their 15 elementary schools with the school and holiday schedules of the William S. Hart Union High School District.

“One of the things we’ve been presented with from the community is for us to be lined up with the Hart District as much as possible so that the vacations for students here are the same as the vacations for the students in high school,” SUSD Superintendent Colleen Hawkins said. “And so we’re examining that.”

The decision regarding the future of fall break for the SUSD is set to be discussed in the coming weeks, and while STA representatives have said they would not like to see any reduction in the break length, the team has said they would at what a decrease in the number of days would look like.

In addition to looking at the calendar, Rocha said the members of the teachers’ union had also attended the meeting to show their solidarity in wanting a resolution for how teachers are supposed to deal with behavioral issues within the classroom that stem from the students’ incorrect placement, particularly in how that affects special needs students.

“What we’re seeing in some of our classes is we’ll have a child that is misbehaving by throwing a chair … or using profanity,” said Rocha, adding that teachers can sometimes be forced to evacuate the classroom to ensure their other students’ safety while the homeroom teacher and others try to deal with the misbehaving student. “How is that fair to all the the other students … and we have an obligation to provide all students with the correct placement.”

Hawkins said that her office and the board had announced their plans to work with teachers in the future to address the issues involving behavior in the classroom, but that their plans would take additional time.

“It’s a bigger issue than suspension, or behavior correction,” said Hawkins. “It’s a bigger question, and what you hear from the teachers is that they want us to address this. What you hear from the district is that we’ve begun to address it. And now it’s going to be a combination of staff development that we provide for teachers, for regular and special education, as well as the supports we provide to students and staff, in how we address the very serious adverse childhood experiences.”

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