STAMFORD, Connecticut (WABC) -- A school calendar controversy has taken hold in Connecticut after the Stamford School Board voted to remove two holidays, Veterans Day and Columbus Day, meaning students will not have those days off for the next two school years.
One reason: a board member pointed out that the proposed 181-day school calendar lasted too long, into mid-June, but some people in the community say cutting the two holidays isn't the answer.
Alfred Fusco is a veteran and a founding member of the Stamford chapter of the nation's largest Italian-American service organization UNICO. He says the vote this week to eliminate Veterans Day and Columbus Day as school holidays was doubly painful.
"It was a gut punch. It was terrible. It had no inclination," Fusco said.
Honoring Christopher Columbus in statues, parades or the holiday has become a divisive issue given his role in the evolution of colonialism and slavery.
Fusco, who has written an open letter to the Board of Education, says context is critical.
"A lot of bad things happened in this country after the discovery, let's not whitewash it. I said what happened on October 12, 1492, the discovery of America, was the most significant event in the history of the human race," Fusco said.
The board member who spearheaded Tuesday's motion that passed 5-3 told Eyewitness News that it's best for our students to be in school.
"I want to return even more holidays to the classroom. This year, a majority of the board was not prepared to go further. Under state law, when open on federal holidays, the district must provide a suitable educational program in observance of the day."
"As long as they get the history, they get the understanding, they get the context of what these dates mean and how it fits into the country's history, and most importantly they get to learn," parent Steve Wilson said.
"A lot of companies and other organizations have done it and given more floating holidays and things, so I don't have a strong opinion one way or another, I would like the kids to have the day off, but it's not up to me I guess," parent Pat Keane said.
A number of neighboring school districts already remain open on the two holidays.
The vote covers the calendar for the next two school years. Opponents hope the issue will be revisited.