Central Bucks students won't have the whole week of Thanksgiving off next year, and they'll be in school on Election Day.
They won't start school until after Labor Day, but seventh and tenth graders won't get the school to themselves on their first day.
Those are among several changes new superintendent Dr. Rod Green made to next year's school calendar.
The tweaks did not win unanimous support from school board members. Though the school calendar for 2013-2014 was approved, it won passage on a 7-2 vote Tuesday night.
Board members John Gamble and Kelly Unger voted against the new schedule.
Green said he designed the new calendar after hearing input from school principals, district administrators and parents.
"Obviously, it doesn’t incorporate everyone’s wishes," Green said at Tuesday night's school board meeting. "But getting out on June 12 and starting after Labor Day is a pretty good calendar."
Next year's calendar outlines 184 student days and 193 teacher days.
All students will report for the first day of school on Tuesday, Sept. 3.
In recent years, returning middle and high-school students didn't start until the following day. That gave new seventh and tenth grade students a day to deal with their lockers, navigate the hallways and find their classrooms.
But Green said it doesn't count as an official school day if all the district's students don't attend.
Board member Joe Jagelka questioned the change, saying that incoming students liked having that day to get over their nervousness. But Green said middle and high school principals will look at other ways, including advance tours and orientations, to help students feel confident in their new schools.
"We think we can address that need without having a day off," the superintendent said.
After a day off on Sept. 5 for Rosh Hashanah, students and teachers will get no breaks until the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. That long stretch prompted Gamble to vote against the new schedule.
"That's a long time for students to go with no days off," Gamble said after the meeting. "It's a long time for teachers, too. I'd have liked to have seen a day or two in there where they could catch their breath."
Unger said she is concerned about sending kids to school on Election Day. Some of the district's schools are used as polling places and would therefore have to be accessible to the public while kids are in the building.
"I feel for security purposes, students shouldn’t be in school on Election Day," Unger said.
Geri McMullin, who has been on the board for 30 years, said schools used to be open on Election Day. Over the years, she said, the board began scheduling days off first for presidential elections, which typically bring the highest voter turnout.
After the meeting Gamble expressed another concern about having school on Election Day. Like many parents, he said, he brings his son into the voting booth with him, something he won't be able to do if school is in session.
"It's a family process," Gamble said, adding that he and his son talk about the importance of voting and about the candidates. "So when he grows up, he knows how important it is."
The 2013-2014 school calendar includes three days off over Thanksgiving, eight days off over Christmas and three days off over Easter. Other days off include Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Presidents Day and Memorial Day.
For full details, click on the attached PDF files or scroll down to page 152 of the school board agenda packet.