School day in South Routt School District could be lengthened with new calendar

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— The South Routt School District is considering some significant changes to its school calendar that would aim to boost student achievement.

School board President Jules Palyo said Wednesday that the possibility of lengthening the school day and adding more planning time for teachers stems from a low academic rating the district's elementary school received.

It was graded by the Colorado Department of Education as a “priority improvement” school based on student performance on the the state's annual standardized test.

Palyo said the school board views the rating as a district issue, not just an elementary school issue.

“We asked the administration and the directors to come up with a plan to address that issue of the elementary school being graded as priority improvement,” Palyo said. “They talked to the teachers and had several meetings, and what they came up with is that they felt they need more planning time to strategize for some possible interventions or extra needs that might be there for different students.”

The district started drafting some options that would give teachers more planning time without affecting the amount of time they spend with students.

More planning time also would allow teachers to better align their curricula and collaborate.

At a special meeting Tuesday night, board members were presented with three options for the calendar, which included keeping it the same; creating 11 dedicated planning days for teachers that would fall about every third Friday; or enacting a combination of 40-minute planning periods in the morning and some dedicated Friday planning days.

Both of the options that would change the calendar would add about 35 minutes to the school day.

The board hasn't decided yet which option they would like to adopt, but Palyo said “it was pretty much agreed upon that a change needs to be done.”

“It's a hot-button topic because if we're talking about every third Friday having no school, then what do parents do with their kids on that Friday?” Palyo said. “We've heard some rumblings of concern through the grapevine, but there really hasn't been any major outcry from the community. We plan to have public input on this.”

Palyo said he's confident the school board will make the best calendar decision in the coming weeks with the input of teachers, parents and community members.

“As a district, we're going to all agree on a calendar,” he said.

The district will resume talks on the calendar at a school board meeting March 20.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10

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