Martin Luther King Jr. Day will be a day off for Platteville Public Schools students, teachers and other staff, at least in the 2016–17 school year.
The Platteville School Board voted 5–2 Monday night for a version of the calendar that included Jan. 16, 2017 as a day off. Until this year Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was a day off for students, but an inservice day for teachers.
Board members Heather Connelly and Colleen McCabe voted against the calendar. School board members Eric Fatzinger and Josh Grabandt were absent.
The 2016–17 school year also includes Dec. 23, the day before Christmas Eve, off, but includes a two-day spring break, March 16–17, and Good Friday, April 14. The final day of 2016–17 classes will be June 8, barring extra days due to weather cancellations.
Scheduling for 2016–17 was a challenge because of the desire for extra time to finish the $16.6 million PPS building project before classes start. School will begin Sept. 6, five days after school is allowed to start by state law.
The calendar vote came after a proposal to make Martin Luther King Day a school day failed on a 4–3 vote, with discussion about the merits of having Dec. 23 off, or an extra day of spring break, or going longer into June. Board members Colleen McCabe, Heather Connolly and Nancy Bongers voted for having Martin Luther King day be a school day.
PPS administrator Connie Valenza said staff preferred that Martin Luther King Day remain an inservice day, “and even as a school day,” than have the day off for all. She said PPS “has had a complaint from a parent about that date” and having the day off for students but not teachers.
McCabe said Platteville High School teachers said they wanted a day “just like Veterans Day and have a celebration and activities with students; they’d rather have that day as an intentional day for the need to celebrate diversity [and] differences.”
Connolly said there was “an overwhelming response from both parents and teachers to keep spring break.”
But, Valenza added, “The feedback we very clearly get from parents was they don’t like going two weeks into June.”
School board member Arlene Siss said parents planning to take their children on spring break trips “will take their kids anyway” out of school.
Bongers said due to the building project the 2016–17 calendar was a “one-year calendar,” so Martin Luther King Day as a school day could be evaluated for future school years.
“I think we have an opportunity to take leadership in the area,” said school board member Abulkhair Masoom, who opposed the school day.
Most school districts do not have Martin Luther King, Jr. Day off. Ironically most area school districts did have the day off this year, but because of bad weather.