Faculty Debate Changes in the School Calendar

A faculty meeting conversation grew into a heated debate last Friday as teachers argued about the necessity of adding 10 days to the academic year and how to use the extra time. “Each of the different departments wants a different calendar for their own reasons,” stated Teri Moss-Tyler, Admissions Counselor. The College Counseling Office (CCO), for example, prefers a schedule that would allow Senior’s Fall Term grades to arrive earlier at colleges. “[If fall term ended earlier,] students who apply early decision would be able to get their transcripts in before colleges finalize their decisions. Also, winter grades go out in mid-March now. Colleges wrap up their decisions between mid-March and the end of March,” John Anderson, explained Director of College Counseling. According to some sources, the English department wishes to have a longer fall term in order to fully develop students’ writing skills in preparation for the next two, shorter terms. However, many teachers are also in favor of having terms of equal length. The administration has decided the calendar will have 150 school days, 10 more than in the current calendar. To many faculty, however, this number seems arbitrary. This group believes that quality is more important than quantity. “[A number] fails to take into account…that in a residential boarding school, learning takes place in a lot of arenas. The value of education is anywhere but in the classroom,” insisted a member of the English Department, who wished to remain anonymous. A vote on Friday illustrated the division and controversy over the issue: by a count of hands, 52 members of the faculty voted to table the calendar discussion, 58 voted to continue the discussion, and many abstained. After much deliberation and debate, with ideas subtracted and amended, the meeting concluded with three options for a vote. The current proposals for changing the school calendar are characterized as Models 1B, 2B, and 2C. If Model 1B is implemented, the faculty will arrive on campus before Labor Day, and Fall term exams would be completed before Thanksgiving break. This way, students will not have to study for the exams over Thanksgiving, and will return to school facing the clean slate of winter term. A shorter winter break will divide winter term, and all three trimesters will be roughly the same length. Model 2B is closer to the current calendar. The faculty would arrive after Labor Day, and fall term would end after Thanksgiving. Fall term will remain the longest trimester and winter break would be roughly the same length as it is now. Model 2C is similar to 2B, with the only real difference being that in C, Winter and Spring terms are of equal length, with a longer Fall Term. The administration hopes the extra days change will improve the pace of life at Andover, which everyone agrees is hectic at best. “The notion is by [lengthening the school year,] but not adding to the curriculum, it will essentially allow us to breathe,” said an Instructor in Math. However, some believe that PA teachers will not slow their habitually accelerated pace, but simply cover more material in the supplementary days. There is certainly the possibility that the calendar change will backfire, but most agree that the revision of the schedule has the best interests of the students and faculty in mind. Mr. Anderson remains optimistic about the process. “There will be disappointed people no matter which [calendar] is decided on…We will pull together and it will finally result in some positive outcome for us all.” When asked if he felt he was accurately informed to make a decision, he replied, “At some point you have to say ‘Enough already. Let’s vote.’” The faculty will vote on a model in the upcoming week.