Calendar committee toys with dates

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— The Steamboat Springs School District Calendar Committee is nearing completion of this year's parent, student and staff survey, which will help determine if any changes need to be made to next year's school calendar.

The biggest issue involves the timing of spring break and whether it coincides with the state's mandatory ACT test date for all high school juniors, Superintendent Cyndy Simms said.

Typically, Colorado's test date is the fourth Wednesday in April, with a make-up date on the second Wednesday of May. This year, spring break falls during the week of the April 23 state test date.

Last year, spring break was moved forward one week and immediately followed the closing of the ski area. The plan drew the ire of some local families who were too busy closing down their tourism-driven businesses to leave town on vacation.

This year, juniors have a couple of dates to choose from if they can't make the spring break test date April 12, a national test date, or May 7, the state make-up date.

But if a student skips all three test dates, Steamboat Springs High School's accountability report will suffer because of "zero" ACT scores.

"We hope to encourage as many juniors to take the ACT on April 12 as possible," Simms said. "We know there will be sporting events on that day. Those families need to commit that their student will take the test in May" if they choose to participate in the sporting event.

Some parents still want a return to a traditional school calendar with a two-week winter break and a March spring break, Simms said.

However, past survey results have shown overwhelming support for the current calendar, and nothing indicates that sentiment will change.

"Under the old system, there was no vacation time for anyone working in the tourism industry," said Jeff Little, business community representative to the committee. "For the last seven years, we've had a calendar that has worked for the industry."

March spring breaks posed too many problems for local families, Simms said.

"There is no way they can take a family vacation during the traditional March break," she said. "It's a really important week for most businesses in town."

Mike Knezevich, a Calendar Committee member, said he doubts community sentiment will change.

"I think people are pretty happy with the way the schedule is now," he said.

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