District to finalize calendar

School officials to survey parents for next year's schedule

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— Parents who attend conferences with Steamboat Springs School District teachers this week will receive more than an update about how their child is faring in school.

District officials plan to give each parent a survey about proposed options for the 2007-08 school calendar. Survey results will help district officials and the District Accountability Comm-

ittee decide on one of three current options. District staff also will fill out the surveys.

The surveys are a result of the School Board's desire for feedback from district stakeholders.

"We get the largest response if we administer surveys at parent/teacher conferences," Superintendent Donna Howell said. "We will ask staff to give feedback by the end of the week."

The District Accountability Committee, which is charged with putting the calendar together, has proposed a schedule that differs from those used in recent years. The major changes were one full week of vacation at Thanksgiving and two full weeks of vacation at the end of December and beginning of January. School also would start one week earlier than in recent years.

On Monday, School Board members questioned the necessity of having a full week of vacation during Thanksgiving, and they wondered whether the extended break was what parents wanted. Several board members also questioned whether lengthening the school year would meet parent approval.

DAC chairwoman Kristin Wilson said the committee made the suggestions based on calendar survey results from last year that indicated a majority of parents identified academic performance as the most important consideration when planning a school calendar.

Wilson also pointed out a majority of parents liked the current Blues Break and Spring Break vacations in February and April, respectively.

"We basically left those breaks alone," Wilson said. "The reason we came up with the extended break at Thanksgiving and Christmas was looking at it in terms of making the calendar most academically sound. The feeling that was presented to us was having longer periods of uninterrupted time is better academically."

The DAC's original calendar proposal has 26 weeks when students would be in class for a full five days. The DAC is now proposing two other options.

The DAC and School Board will use feedback from this week's surveys to select the calendar for the next school year only.

"We need this calendar done," Wilson said.

At the bottom of each staff and parent survey will be a spot for additional comments so parents and staff can help direct the DAC as it makes future calendars.

School Board members and DAC members are interested in producing a survey, likely to be administered in January, that will address several longer-term issues, such as board member Jeff Troeger's suggestion that parents be asked if they are willing to sacrifice Blues Break or Spring Break to shorten the school year.

"Calendars that keep pushing you into the hot season of August just don't make sense to people," Troeger said.

Board member John DeVin-

centis suggested the DAC juggle staff days to allow for more full weeks of instruction without substantially lengthening the school year or sacrificing student vacations.

"The suggestions are valid," Howell said. "I would encourage the board to go with whatever seems to the preference of the parents and staff this year and then examine comments in years to come."

Parent-teacher conferences began Tuesday at the high school. Conferences will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. today at the middle school. On Thursday, conferences are from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the elementary schools and from 4 to 8 p.m. at the middle school and high school. On Friday, elementary conferences are from 8 a.m. to noon.

Calendar options

Choice A DAC proposed calendar

(26, five-day weeks of instruction)

- Start Dates:

Staff Aug. 20

Students Aug. 22

- End Dates:

Staff June 10

Students June 6

- Thanksgiving Break: Nov. 19 to 23 (full week)

- December Break: Dec. 24 to Jan. 4 (two full weeks)

- Blues Break: Feb. 25 to 29 (full week)

- Spring Break: April 21 to 25 (full week)

Choice B Current calendar

(25, five-day weeks of instruction)

- Start Dates:

Staff Aug. 22

Students Aug. 27

- End Dates:

Staff June 9

Students June 6

- Thanksgiving Break: Nov. 21 to 23 (three days)

- December Break: Dec. 24 to Jan. 2 (school resumes on a Thursday)

- Blues Break: Feb. 25 to 29 (full week)

- Spring Break: April 21 to 25 (full week)

Choice C Modification of DAC calendar

(27, five-day weeks of instruction)

- Start Dates:

Staff Aug. 22

Students Aug. 27

- End Dates:

Staff June 11

Students June 6

- Thanksgiving Break: Nov. 21 to 23 (three days)

- December Break: Dec. 24 to Jan. 4 (two full weeks)

- Blues Break: Feb. 25 to 29 (full week)

- Spring Break: April 21 to 25 (full week)

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