Late-start schedule postponed

School district wants more communication before implementation

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Plans to implement a late-start schedule at Steamboat Springs School District schools have been postponed indefinitely.

Superintendent Cyndy Simms informed the Steamboat Springs Board of Education of the change of plans at Monday's board meeting. In May, Simms told the School Board late start would begin at each district school in September.

But principals' concerns about starting a late-start schedule at the beginning of next school year precipitated the decision to postpone the schedule.

Steamboat Springs Middle School Principal Tim Bishop said Wednesday there needs to be more communication about late start with the community and additional planning is necessary before a late-start schedule can realize its potential.

"I've always been a big proponent of (late start). I think it can be a very valuable use of time," Bishop said. "But what I felt was that, at this point in time, not enough communication had been done with the community on why this is important and how valuable it can be to students."

Many middle school parents have approached Bishop with questions and concerns about late start, he said.

"The last thing I wanted was the feeling that something was being done over the summer without parents having the opportunity to ask questions and know about it," he said. "When we do it, I want to make sure it's right. I want it to be a real positive thing."

Bishop said he plans to contact other school districts that use late-start or early release schedules to determine how a late-start schedule can best be implemented. He also plans to develop a late-start survey for middle school parents.

According to a memorandum presented to the School Board on Monday, the district may be ready to pilot late start during the second semester of the 2003-04 school year.

Late start, which was implemented at Steamboat Springs High School several years ago, pushes back the beginning of the school day by about 100 minutes once a month to allow teachers and staff additional planning and development time. Teachers come to school early on late start days for team planning and curriculum development, among other things.

Some parents have said pushing back the school day once a month will cause child care and other family scheduling problems. The district said it will not provide before-school activities for students on late-start days.

The results of a school calendar survey mailed to district parents and staff earlier this year showed 52 percent of responding parents supported late start, 21 percent supported late start only if alternative activities are provided for students before the school day begins and 27 percent didn't support late start.

Some parents and School Board members interpreted the survey numbers to mean that 48 percent, or nearly half, of responding parents don't support late start as the district has planned to implement it.

School officials say late start will benefit district teachers, staff and students.

-- To reach Brent Boyer call 871-4234

or e-mail bboyer@steamboatpilot.com

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