Our View: School calendar ain’t broke, so…
March 9, 2011
A debate Monday night about vacation scheduling in the Steamboat Springs School District calendar ended as it should have: with a Steamboat Springs School Board vote in favor of maintaining the status quo.
What the 4-1 vote means is that the 2011-12 school year calendar will be similar to this year's, with a three-day Thanksgiving break, a two-week holiday break, a weeklong Blues Break in February and a weeklong spring break in late April. Students will be in school for a total of 172 instructional days, which is more than the state requires.
School Board member Brian Kelly was the opposing vote, but he wasn't the only board member frustrated with the schedule. Laura Anderson and Robin Crossan favor shortening Blues Break, which was instituted years ago as a way to break up the long stretch between the holiday break and spring break. Spring break in Steamboat is typically held late in the school year and two weeks after Steamboat Ski Area closes for the season, which gives families enough time to close up their businesses before heading off on vacation or otherwise enjoying some downtime with the kiddos.
We understand educators' frustration with the existing calendar. The weeklong Blues Break and the late spring break disrupt instructional flow and create additional challenges for teachers to refocus their students once school is back in session, particularly when the weather gets nicer and summer is just a few weeks away.
But there are two reasons why we think it's justifiable for the calendar to remain as is.
First, this is what the majority of the community wants. Steamboat Springs is unusual in that some of its school breaks are tied to the busy winter tourism season, but let's not forget that school calendars have long been set around the communities they serve. School is out for summer because there was a time when many communities across the country needed their children helping on the farm. Many local families can't get away during the ski season, which requires spring break to be pushed to late April. Having students in school from the beginning of January through late April without any prolonged break creates problems of its own, hence Blues Break.
Second, it doesn't appear as if the vacation schedule is preventing our children from receiving a quality education. Steamboat's public schools continue to be rated among the best in the state based on student test scores. Although there's always room for improvement, the calendar conversation would be much different if our students didn't continually perform so high.
We appreciate and understand the concerns of some School Board members. But the calendar seems to work, so let's leave it alone.
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