2024-2025 School Year Calendar Update

2024-2025 School Year Calendar Update
Posted on 06/14/2024
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At the June 12, 2024 School Committee meeting, it was confirmed that the 2024-2025 School Year Calendar approved at the April 10, 2024 meeting will be implemented.  

School Committee received an opinion from outside legal counsel relative to this issue; click here to access the document (PDF).

For accessibility and translation purposes, the text of the memo is also available here:


TO: Tina Cahill, Vice Chair, Quincy School Committee
FROM:  John Foskett, Esq.
Elizabeth B. Valerio, Esq.
DATE:  June 3, 2024
SUBJECT:  School Calendar and School Committee Authority

You have requested an opinion that can be publicly disclosed regarding a question involving the authority of, respectively, the Quincy School Committee and the Quincy City Council regarding the Quincy Public Schools (“QPS”) school calendar. Specifically, the question involves which entity has the authority to declare a school holiday.

The facts are as follows. On April 22, 2024 the City Council adopted Order No. 2024-045 declaring that Lunar New Year be recognized as a “legal holiday” resulting in the closure of all municipal offices. Subsequently, however, it appears that the Council received legal advice that it has no authority under Massachusetts law to establish Lunar New Year as a “legal holiday”. Accordingly, on May 6, 2024 the Council effectively amended Order No. 2024-045 such that it establishes Lunar New Year as a QPS holiday, resulting in the closure of the schools when the holiday falls on a weekday, or on a Friday or Monday when it falls on a Saturday or a Sunday, respectively. The School Committee has objected on the grounds that this infringes its authority to establish the QPS school calendar. That has resulted in the School Committee’s request for our opinion.

It is our opinion that amended Order No. 2024-045 does in fact interfere with the School Committee’s exclusive authority to determine the QPS school calendar.

Under Massachusetts law, G.L. c. 69, § 1G, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (“BESE”) is charged with the following duty:

The board shall establish the minimum length for a school day and the minimum number of days in the school year.

Under G.L. c. 69, § 1B, the BESE is vested with the authority to “promulgate regulations as necessary to fulfill” the purposes of chapter 69. The BESE has therefore enacted regulations that implement its § 1G duties. We believe that those regulations at 603 CMR 27.00, the “Student Learning Time” regulations, answer the question that has been raised.

Specifically, 603 CMR 27.03 contains the following provisions.

603 CMR 27.03(1) provides:

Prior to the beginning of each school year, every school committee shall establish school year schedules for each of the public schools under its supervision and control, based on the particular learning needs of students within each school. In determining the school year schedule for each school, the school committee shall be guided by the student learning time plan recommended by the school council for each school, and shall attempt to maximize high quality teaching, learning, and professional development opportunities [emphasis added].

603 CMR 27.03(2) provides:

Every school committee shall schedule a school year which includes at least 185 school days at each elementary, middle, and secondary school within the school district [emphasis added].

603 CMR 27.03(4) provides:

School committees are encouraged to exceed the minimum number of school days wherever possible, and to offer extended day and extended year programs that expand student learning opportunities. [emphasis added].

Finally, 603 CMR 27.03(5) provides:

A school committee may establish a separate school year and school day schedule for kindergarten programs which it maintains pursuant to 603 CMR 8.00: Kindergartens: Minimum School Age, so long as it provides a minimum of 425 annual hours of structured learning time. In those school districts which schedule two sessions of kindergarten daily, the school committee shall adopt a schedule for its kindergarten programs which ensures equal instructional time for all kindergarten students [emphasis added].

Finally, in 603 CMR 27.06(1) and (2) the regulations expressly require that any waivers from the requirements of these regulations, including those set forth above, may only be granted by the BESE upon application of the “school committee” or in certain circumstances by the Commissioner upon request of the “school district”.1

These regulations establish unambiguously and unequivocally that the School Committee, and not the Council or any other municipal entity, is charged with determining the school calendar.

This result is buttressed by those provisions in the General Laws that specifically address school calendars. See, e.g., G.L. c. 71, § 1, stating “[a]ny city, town or school district by vote of its school committee may maintain and operate on a continuous twelve-month basis a sufficient number of schools for the instruction of all children who may legally attend a public school therein in accordance with such rules and regulations” [emphasis added]; G.L. c. 71, § 4, stating that in certain circumstances “[a] school committee may determine that such [high] school shall be conducted for less than the number of days required by” the BESE [emphasis added]; G.L. c. 71, § 73, stating that the superintendent may direct a “closing” of the schools for teachers to attend certain meetings “unless the committee votes otherwise” [emphasis added].

While that resolves the question, we note that this result is consistent with and furthers the broad scope of authority vested in the School Committee by G.L. c. 71, § 37. That provision “explicitly delegates” to “local school committees” the “authority” regarding “control, management, and discretion” in administering the public education of students. Curtis v. School Comm., 420 Mass. 749, 754 (1995).

In our opinion, there is no question that amended Order 2024-045 directly interferes with this authority. As part of its legal duty to establish a calendar that complies with the learning time requirements imposed by the BESE, the School Committee must take into account the possible impacts of a school holiday on those requirements and any necessary adaptations to the calendar that would result. That process has not occurred here because another municipal body which has no responsibilities or duties with regard to the learning time requirements has determined that the QPS schools should be closed on what would otherwise be a school day. That decision is by law vested in the School Committee.

Please let us know if you have any questions.


1 603 CMR 27.02 defines “district” in pertinent part as a “municipal school district” “acting through its school committee or superintendent”.