School Board in Connecticut Reverses Course After Calendar Controversy

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A growing school calendar controversy has Farmington switching gears.

Before a packed room at the middle school in Farmington on Monday, the school board voted to reverse course and add back two Jewish holidays as days off for the 2023-24 school year.

“They listened to the public feedback and they responded,” said David Waren, Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford president and CEO.

Many were upset that schools potentially would be open on those days.

“To have this on the calendar shows Farmington is an inclusive community,” said Sharon Schloss, of Farmington.

After making the decision to leave Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur off the school holiday schedule next year, the Farmington Board of Education will reconsider that decision at a meeting Monday night.

More than 1,300 people have signed a petition calling for change. It comes after the board voted three weeks ago to delete Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and not to add Diwali, one of the most important holidays in Hinduism.

“The kids come home asking, ‘Mommy, we have all these other holidays for Easter and Christmas and we love it. How about Diwali?’” said Archya Varadaraja, of Farmington.

During Monday’s meeting, there was an apology from the board chair though many defended their original decision-making.

In a statement, the chair explained the board’s previous vote was “based on its consideration of the best interests of the Farmington Public Schools community, and it was not discriminatory or anti-Semitic in any way.”

The push continues to add Diwali, the Festival of Lights, which is important to an increasing part of that community.

“It is a work in progress and I’m hopeful,” said Rupi Dhingra of Farmington.

In Farmington, those of Asian Indian descent soared from 1,196 in 2015 to 2,149 just five years later, according to U.S. Census estimates.

We’re told the board is trying to juggle all the impacts of holidays, including making sure the process of picking them is done in a fair way and doesn’t extend the school year too long.

A meeting to talk about future school calendars is planned for January.

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