Monday, February 24, 2003
Steamboat Springs Community input will decide if Steamboat Springs school calendar for the next two years needs to change.
Beginning today, school district teachers, staff, parents and even a handful of high school students will receive a four-page school calendar survey.
The survey, which was compiled by the district's Calendar Committee, asks respondents several questions, mostly related to vacation breaks.
"We want to know how our parents, staff and high school students think about our calendar and what they would suggest for changes, if anything," Superintendent Cyndy Simms said.
In recent years, the timing of spring break has been one of the most controversial calendar issues.
Under the current calendar, spring break is one week after the Steamboat Ski Area closes.
The timing is designed to work with parents whose occupations depend on tourism. However, the state's mandatory ACT test date occasionally falls during spring break. Make-up test dates are available.
Also, spring sports hit full-stride by late April, and scheduling conflicts can arise. Five of the seven schools in the district's league have traditional March spring breaks.
One of the survey's eight questions asks respondents whether they prefer the current break system or a two-week winter break followed by a one-week March spring break.
The issue of late start also is explored in the survey.
Late start, which is done once a month at the high school, provides teachers with extra time for skills development and instructional improvement. On late start days, school begins 100 minutes later than usual.
Working parents with younger children have questioned the implementation of late start at the elementary level because of the extra expense and limited availability of child care.
Late start's benefit to teachers is unquestionable, said Mike Knezevich, Steamboat Springs High School assistant principal and Calendar Committee member.
"It has been incredible to have that two-hour block once a month," Knezevich said. "It allows teachers to work together and plan."
Depending on survey responses, the school day could be extended by five minutes next year, Simms said. If the school day is extended, the school year could be shortened by a couple days.
In total, 2,112 surveys were mailed Monday. Those who receive the survey have until March 3 to mail it to the school district's main office or send it to one of the district's schools.
The Calendar Committee meets March 5 to tally survey results. A final draft of the calendar could be completed as early as March 19, though state law only requires a calendar be completed by the last day of school.
This year, the last day of school is June 6.
Simms must approve any calendar before it can be implemented. Provided the calendar meets state law and satisfies the requirements of school board policy, the board is not likely to make any changes, Simms said.
The 12-member Calendar Committee is comprised of four teachers, three parents, a community/business representative, a district support staff representative, principal representative Knezevich, district director's representative Rick Denney and Simms.