No 2009-10 School Closings for Muslim Holidays
Schools were closed on Oct. 2 for Eid al-Fitr, a feast marking the end of the Ramadan fast. The school board had approved the holiday’s inclusion in the 2008-09 calendar adopted at the April 2008 reorganization. It had been the wish of board member Rasheed Abdul-Haqq that the most important feast day, Eid al-Adha, would also have been included.
For 2009-10, neither Eid, or feast, falls on a school day, Abdul-Haqq said. Eid al-Fitr begins on a Sunday and Eid al-Adha occurs during Thanksgiving recess.
“That’s the reason I accepted the calendar,” he said.
But when the holidays fall on school days in the future, he said, he will advocate for their inclusion on the district calendar.
Muslim holidays are based on a lunar calendar and begin at sundown when the new moon is sighted by an imam. The feast days shift each year and by 2011, Eid al-Fitr will take place in August.
The 2009-10 calendar was adopted by the school board on Feb. 17. Both this year’s and next year’s calendars are posted on the district web site.
Plaintalker asked Schools Superintendent Steve Gallon III two questions about the change. Gallon was hired in February, but took office July 1 after the 2008-09 calendar had been adopted. The questions and answers appear below.
Plaintalker: Do you have any comment on how the calendar was formulated? Also normally it is adopted at the annual reorganization in April. Is there any special reason for the early adoption?
Dr. Gallon: "The calendar was formed with an eye toward improving instructional outcomes for students; maximizing teaching and learning time; supporting professional development; complying with state testing and mandates; and promoting a sense of fairness and equity in areas of cultural and religious diversity. In doing so, there are no religious holidays reflected on the calendar and students receive approximately two additional weeks of instruction prior to state testing. Usually, by mid to late June, fatigue sets in and student attendance and learning decline. It is important for us to get our students in school as early as possible to get about the business of learning.
"The calendar was also formulated in a very thoughtful, pragmatic manner with stakeholder collaboration and input. This administrator does not consider this 'early' adoption, but timely adoption. Cranford and Westfield have also adopted their calendar. This reflects the efficiency and timeliness with which we want to plan and function, as well as notify parents, teachers, and stakeholders so that they can plan their summer and vacation activities. "