The Montclair public school system has changed its opening day to avoid starting the school year on Rosh Hashana.
Originally, classes were scheduled to begin on Friday, Sept. 10, the second day of the holiday. According to the revised calendar, approved on April 12, school will start on Monday, Sept. 13.
The issue was first raised in New Jersey Jewish News on April 2. The holiday’s arrival during the same week as Labor Day has caused headaches for school schedulers around the state.
“We’re very happy to be able to fix it,” said Jim Carlton, Montclair school board president. “It’s very good to be able to accommodate everyone.”
Rabbi David Greenstein of Congregation Shomrei Emunah in Montclair contacted the board after hearing about the issue from congregants. He said he was “delighted” with the revision and called the process “a wonderful example of successful dialogue.”
Schools superintendent Dr. Frank Alvarez, said Greenstein, “was absolutely willing to listen to my concerns, and from the very beginning he was interested in finding a way to make it possible to enable everyone to do what they think is important.”
The change means the students’ February break will be shortened by one day.
“Normally, we don’t close for the second day of Rosh Hashana, but the first day of school is a pretty important day for kids,” said Dr. James Patterson, Montclair Public Schools personnel administrator. “For some kids in kindergarten, it’s their first day of school ever. We decided, why not close?”
Some parents, however, have called to complain about having to manage another day of child care, Patterson said. “But we try to do what’s reasonable. We think this is the reasonable thing.”