Our View: Hayden students deserve better


Editorial Board, February to May 2012

  • Scott Stanford, general manager
  • Brent Boyer, editor
  • Tom Ross, reporter
  • Karen Massey, community representative
  • Jeff Swoyer, 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.

Hayden School District officials, buoyed by support from some parents, again have failed their students by rejecting changes to the school calendar that would provide more instructional days. Instead, the district appears poised for another school year of significantly fewer student contact days than Routt County’s other two public school districts.

That might be fine if Hayden students were achieving at levels that didn’t indicate room for significant improvement. But the district’s Colorado Student Assessment Program test scores in recent years have shown consistent performance at, or in many cases, below the state average. That’s particularly true in the writing, math and science portions of the standardized test.

So for the second straight year, the district’s middle school and high school teachers admirably pushed for a calendar change that would give students additional classroom days during the academic year. This year’s proposal called for nine additional days; last year’s called for eight days.

And for the second straight year, a sincere desire on the part of secondary school staff to improve student achievement through additional instructional days was scuttled by the combination of an elementary school staff with no desire to change its schedule and a group of parents who protested the proposal at Hayden School Board meetings. What’s particularly troubling is that elementary student achievement hasn’t been so stellar as to justify maintaining the status quo — especially when that status quo means fewer student contact days than mandated by state law.

Hayden’s school calendar for several years has called for fewer than 160 student contact days. But because the school has slightly longer school days — it extended the school day by 33 minutes in 2005 to allow for four-day school weeks for part of the academic year — it is able to meet the state’s total student instructional hours requirement. By comparison, the Steamboat Springs School District has 172 student contact days, and the South Routt School District has 169 days. Hayden’s 2012-13 school year will have only 156 student contact days.

Added days may not directly correlate to improved student achievement, but they can’t possibly hurt. Hayden’s existing calendar of a school year that starts after Labor Day and ends before Memorial Day isn’t cutting it. And while we agree that last week’s proposal for a split calendar — additional school days for secondary school student but not for elementary school students — posed its problems, we’re not satisfied that Hayden School District officials, elementary school staff and even some parents are keeping the best interests of the students in mind.

It’s time for some leadership in Hayden from someone other than the secondary school staff, and it should start with Superintendent Mike Luppes. Propose a school calendar that increases instructional days districtwide, and fight for it because it’s what is best for all Hayden students.


Dan Hill 5 years ago

Building our children's future one non-instructional day at a time. It's not like the state requirement is all that demanding to begin with. All those kids from Finland and Australia and Shanghai doing much better on math and science scores than American kids have significantly more school days than any public school student here. I can't imagine what these parents are thinking. It would be one thing for the teachers to be opposed to this, but the parents?


Scott Wedel 5 years ago

Where are those seeking economic development for Hayden? An area's schools is a major consideration for the sort of people that move into an area and consider starting a business.


Jessica Horne 5 years ago

Let’s take a step back and really look at what they were proposing here.... Right now they get a couple Friday's a month off, the school is proposing to remove the off Fridays, let the kids out 30 min early and on Weds not start school until 9:30. So here's the math....currently school is 7 hours a day (rough estimate)....so what is being proposed is going to add only 3 hours a week of school work. (30 min early each day and 1 1/2 hour later on Weds = 4 hours out of the week). The purpose and intent of the Off Friday's was so that teachers would have a couple days a month dedicated to paperwork and being available to assist students that need further assistance. The school also offers 7:00 tutoring on Tuesday and Thursdays for students that need help....the only problem with this current plan is that this is really only focused on athletes to help them become eligible to play...other students aren't necessarily invited to attend these sessions unless the parents push. And working parents...what are they supposed to do on those Weds mornings that school doesn't start until 9:30? I foresee a lot of ditching school on Weds for kids that have a hard time making it on their own.... Before you start bashing the Hayden parents and the decision made you need to fully understand the current calendar and the reasons behind it. It was a completely appropriate decision to make to turn down the calendar change. If the calendar committee would like to readdress this issue with a better proposal I'm sure the parents would be happy to review it. However it needs to make sense for everyone involved. This proposal did not…. If the concerned parties are truly interested then I would like to propose a couple changes that could be looked at now: • Instead of 1 teacher coming in at 7:00 every Tuesday and Thursday to do tutoring for all classes, why not have all teachers come in at 7:00 every day to be available for students that need extra work. • Instead of Tuesday and Thursday’s being only for athletes, make sure it’s for all students • Instead of teachers leaving right as the last bell ring, why not have tutoring sessions from 4-5:00 for students that need it.

The bottom line is that if everyone is really that concerned about the students and their education, why not look at what can be done now without all the impacts to the community. And I’m not just talking about the families; we also have the additional costs of running busses, etc to take into consideration.


mark hartless 5 years ago

If people were really "concerned about students and their education" a lot of things would be different.

As with so many things these days, people are far more interested in feeling good about education rather than anyone actually getting one.

"My kid is an honor student at..." ; No phrase in the english language better captures the naivete of parents about todays government school system. As if being at the top of an institution which probes the depths of world education standards will not only impress us and boost his "self-esteem" but somehow insure "junior's" survival in a world which is acutally educated? Please...


Scott Wedel 5 years ago

Mark, There are standardized tests that test knowledge and, if anything are sometimes criticized for not testing other things. Hayden scores okay in the elementary grades, but scores well below state average in high school math and is weak in reading and writing. Meanwhile, SB high school students score well above state average.

Are you suggesting that tests on math, reading and writing are irrelevant? That is the argument made by those that believe self-esteem is more important than knowledge or skills.

Though, I think you have a point regarding parents being happy even when schools do not perform well because there has been a notable lack of Hayden's parents being outraged regarding the poorly performing schools. It is quite an interesting situation for the teachers to be suggesting changes to improve the schools and meeting opposition from the parents.


Jessica Horne 5 years ago

The proposal did not make sense which is why it was turned down, not that the parents are opposing improvements to our school and our children’s education.

I think it's pretty rash to be judging the parents of Hayden without fully understanding both sides....


Brent Boyer 5 years ago

Hi Jessica, Thanks for your comments on the editorial. We agree that there were reasons the proposed calendar didn't make sense (and we mentioned as much in the editorial), but the Editorial Board contends that the lack of other proposals — particularly that a longer school year for all students hasn't emerged as an obvious solution — is what's most troubling.



mark hartless 5 years ago

Scott, No. The tests are relevant. I didn't try to suggest they were not.

Being an honor student is far better than being a truant. But being an "honor student" in a school, school system, or country that ranks near dead last on tests while ranking first in spending is not really "special", no matter what the bumper sticker says.

Why do americans think their kids are entitled to the highest salaries and first dibs on the best jobs in the world when they accept performance that repeatedly ranks near the bottom?

This is not a matter of parents not being able to see the future. This tells me they can not even see the present. American salaries and living standards are ALREADY going down and high-paying jobs are already leaving. Are educators and parents so naieve as to believe this is all the fault of big business? Do they really think they bear no responsibility for producing and offering a sub-standard workforce whos "self-esteem" is higher than their IQ?

Instead of getting serious we see folks standing there clucking about vacations, "blues break", "winter solstice" break, tier1 vs tier 2 sports; arguing about 9am starts and taking more days off while even Hellen Keller could see our students need to be in school 12 hours/ day year-round.

We are not fooling the rest of the world.


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