By Amaris Castillo
DRACUT -- The School Committee last week unanimously accepted the district's 2018-2019 school calendar on the recommendation of Superintendent of Schools Steven Stone.
The first day of school for grades 1-12 will be Sept. 5, two days after Labor Day. Teachers are expected to return to work Sept. 4 for a professional-development day.
"We have five early-release days, as we have this year," Stone informed School Committee members as they studied the draft calendar in front of them.
The early release days are: Oct. 17, Dec. 12, Feb. 6, March 13, and then the last day of school, June 17, 2019.
In other action, the committee:
n Unanimously approved the special-education school transportation bid specifications meant for a new five-year contract beginning July 1. According to Stone, some of the highlights of the bid specifications are: no vehicle shall be used that is more than eight years old or have more than 150,000 miles on it. By the end of the contract, he added, no vehicle can be older than 10 years with more than 200,000 miles on it.
The bid was scheduled to be released this past Wednesday, and there is a pre-bid conference scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 8, at 11 a.m., at the Dracut Public Schools business office, 2063 Lakeview Ave. The school district will receive sealed proposals until 11 a.m., on Feb. 16, at which time they will be publicly opened and read in the business office. The bid is expected to be awarded on Feb. 26.
n Held the first reading of a new student dress-code policy for elementary and secondary schools within the system.
"We wanted to figure out a way we can make our policy more timely, more gender-neutral, but with enough restraint to make sure that it can be enforced by our principals," said School Committee member Allison Volpe, who sits on the policy subcommittee that worked on the new policy.
The current policy, Volpe said, hasn't been updated in close to 10 years. Volpe said a lot of thought was put into the new policy, which, in part, would prohibit students from wearing jewelry of "an extreme nature," clothing that advertises alcohol or tobacco, and attire such as beachwear, sleepwear or low-cut tops. Committee member Sabrina Heisey said "low-cut tops" is very abstract and made a motion to remove that description from the policy language. It did not pass.
n Held the first reading of a commitment statement to environmental sustainability drafted by the environmental subcommittee. "The world is undergoing climate change that adversely impacts the lives of people and ecosystems," the statement, in part, reads. "Dracut's rural areas are also experiencing faster residential and industrial development."
These changes, the statement continues, are affecting people's food systems, health and quality of life.
"Dracut has a long tradition of living sustainably with the natural world by understanding the importance of preserving natural resources and respecting the interdependence of all life," the statement reads. "Dracut Public Schools is committed to preserving this tradition."
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