“A common sense bill that benefits all communities.”

January 25, 2019

 Bill would nail down high school graduation date
By Jackie Nappo


ELLINGTON — Lawmakers are proposing legislation supported by the Board of Education that would allow school districts to set a firm graduation date unaffected by snow days or other school cancellations, even if it means seniors do not complete the state-mandated 180 day school year. 

The bill was introduced last week by Rep. Christopher Davis, R-Ellington, Rep. Timothy Ackert, R-Coventry, Rep. Doug Dubitsky, R-Canterbury, Rep. Patricia Wilson Pheanious, D-Tolland, Rep. Michael Winkler D-Vernon, and Sen. Daniel Champagne R-Vernon. 

“This is a common sense bill that benefits all communities,” said Superintendent of Schools Scott Nicol, adding that implementing firm graduation dates would not cost the state any money. 

The current law states that local and regional boards of education are to set firm graduation dates for seniors at the start of the year that are no less than 185 school days from the first day of school, and that in April they can set a new date that is 180 school days from the start of the school year. 

The Ellington Board of Education proposal, which was unanimously approved at a Jan. 9 special meeting, removes the language that outlines the minimum amount of days seniors have to complete before graduation, and allows school boards to set one firm graduation date at the start of the year that does not have to be changed to accommodate missed school days. 

Nicol said that this bill could alleviate costs to school systems that have to book new venues for graduation night parties or graduation ceremonies when they have to change the date to accommodate the 180-day rule. 

He also cited families who have to change flights or travel plans and students who end up missing their graduation because they plan to go to college orientations that conflict with a rescheduled graduation date, as major reasons for legislators to consider adopting the bill. 

Nicol said several students in Ellington could not attend graduation last year because of conflicts with college orientations. He did not have an exact number, but said: “One is too many.” 

“On the face of it, it certainly seems like a good idea that helps districts, towns, and most importantly, the student and the student’s family schedule one of the most important events in their entire lifetime,” said Davis, who added that the bill has bipartisan support. 

“It seems like we’re picking up steam since we filed it,” Davis said. “I’m hoping we can have a public hearing shortly.” 

Nicol said the Board of Education has been working on this proposal for a few months, and that they have been creating legislative platforms for the past three years.