Our View: School calendar ain’t broke, so…

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Editorial Board, January through May 8, 2011

  • Scott Stanford, general manager
  • Brent Boyer, editor
  • Tom Ross, reporter
  • Traci Day, community representative
  • Dean Vogelaar, community representative

Contact the editorial board at 970-871-4221 or editor@SteamboatToday.com. Would you like to be a member of the board? Fill out a letter of interest now.

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.

Comments

kathy foos 3 years, 1 month ago

Ain't, sounds really silly for a headline.I was taught that using it should only be out of desperation.(Don't know what could make a person that desperate.) How about ,"if it isn't broke, dont fix it",especially when referring about education.I've corrected my kids so many times for using it,and now you think its "Cool?"Yuk.My writing and spelling is greivious,but you won't ever see me write ain't.(Except now)

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Scott Ford 3 years, 1 month ago

The Steamboat Springs RE-2 calendar is a wee-bit goofy. The creation of Blues Break was in response to a plea from the businesses associated with resort economy to reschedule Spring Break because of its impact on staff scheduling. . Jeff Little owner of the Ore House led the lobbying effort for the calendar change with the full support of the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association.

The problem was an one easy to understand. Employees of the the resort economy with school age children faced child care challenges at one of the most busiest time of the year. Let's be clear about this the lobbying effort to change the calendar had nothing to do with education and everything to do with child care.

The initial proposal was to simply delay Spring Break until the mountain closed. The teaching staff reacted negatively to this idea. The prospects of having essentially no major breaks in the instructional schedule from January to mid-April was viewed as too long. Blues Break was born as a compromise between the school district - instructional staff and the resort economy businesses.. The same staffing / child care issues still existed in February, however, the businesses in the resort economy felt that it could managed.

One of the significant downsides of the existing calendar is its impact on dual enrollment between CMC and the Steamboat Springs School District RE-2. To put it simply, the break schedules are not synchronized. For example, if a high school junior or senior were to enroll in a college class at CMC for dual credit they are faced with having to go to class at the college during Blues Break, attend high school classes during CMC's spring break and lastly attend CMC classes during the school district's spring break which typically takes place the week before CMC finals. To be sure some students do this. Kudos to them.

With an effectively managed dual enrollment, program both secondary, post secondary, students and parents benefit. It is theoretically possible that a student upon graduation from high school could start college at one of the state schools with at least sophomore and possible junior status. The cost savings to the parents and the students is in the thousands. Combined with the Richard C Martin grant that refunds 100% CMC tuition cost for in-district students that graduate with a degree from CMC this should be a no brainer.

Why is the participation in the dual enrollment program pathetic in Steamboat Springs compared to other school districts within the CMC system? The goofy Steamboat Springs RE-2 calendar schedule is the reason. It is time to re-think the calendar through the lenses of education and not resort economy staffing child care needs.

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