Negotiations on February break fail in Bridgeport

Bridgeport Education Association President Gary Peluchette said today that Mike Brady, a Connecticut Education Association union representative sat down Thursday with school officials to discuss the possibility of altering next week’s scheduled February break and that no changes will be made.
“We offered a plan to increase instructional time. We brought a plan to the table. It was rejected,” said Peluchette. He wouldn’t say what the plan was.

Interim School Superintendent Paul Vallas had wanted teachers to agree to work next week even though the district calendar calls for excessive snow days to be made up during the April break. Students missed school last Friday and all this week because of the blizzard and clean up effort. The winter break runs Feb. 18-22 with students returning to school on Feb. 25.

Vallas said he was concerned that students will miss two weeks of school just prior to the start of state standardized testing in March.
According to Vallas, he suggested a plan to extend school days by 75 minutes daily through March. He said the union wanted it to be voluntary.
Vallas said making it voluntary would “have no effect.”
“What would that accomplish …So we will stick to the calendar,” Vallas said. ” I offered an alternative.”

Peluchette said too many teachers have plans for February break that they could not change. He also said the district would be hard pressed to find substitutes to cover for them if they tried to hold school anyway.

“The district sets the calendar. We accept that and agree to work that schedule,” he said. He said the current policy has been in effect for 18 years.
Vallas said the the reason the policy has been in effect so many years is because the union has been resistant to changing it. He promised it will be brought up moving forward.
Earlier this week Vallas said he sent out an email to teachers asking if they would rather sacrifice the April break or February break. He said he got more than 500 responses and that two-thirds were willing to work next week.
This year the district has lost at least nine days — not only to a blizzard but also a hurricane.
Peluchette said despite the two week break students still will get the required amount of instructional days. Vallas agreed. He said April break has been wiped out at this point and that any additional days would have to be tacked on past June 24.

Linda Lambeck