2015-16 Steamboat district academic calendar drawing questions before vote

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Editor's note: This is an updated version of the story that reflects Superintendent Brad Meeks' consultation with Ski Corp. on the 2015-16 calendar. Meeks said Ski Corp. said it was in favor of a spring break occurring after the ski area closes, to give parent employees time to take their children on vacation.

The Steamboat Springs School Board was set to approve or deny the district’s 2015-16 academic calendar at the June 2 meeting, but some push back from parents in attendance and questions from board members forced the vote to be tabled for now.

Reader poll

What calendar features would you prefer to see Steamboat Springs School District students under during the 2015-16 year?

  • Start earlier and end year earlier with a five-day Blues Break (Draft A) 10%
  • Start earlier and end year earlier with two-day Blues Break (Draft B) 49%
  • Traditional calendar as is (Draft C) 30%
  • Start earlier and end slightly later with five-day Blues Break (Draft D) 11%

70 total votes.

2015-16 calendar options being explored

Draft A

■ First day Aug. 19

■ Last day June 2

■ 2016 graduation May 28

■ Staff start Aug. 14

■ Blues Break five days

■ Staff last day June 3

Traditional calendar starting a week earlier than last two years

Draft B

■ First day Aug. 18

■ Last day May 26

■ 2016 graduation May 21

■ Staff start Aug 13

■ Blues Break two days

■ Staff last day May 27

Start week earlier and shorter Blues Break in February

Draft C

■ First day Aug. 26

■ Last day June 9

■ 2016 graduation June 4

■ Staff start Aug. 21

■ Blues Break five days

■ Staff last day June 10

Traditional calendar

Draft D

■ First day Aug. 19

■ Last day June 2

■ 2016 graduation May 28

■ Staff start Aug. 14

■ Blues Break five days

■ Staff last day June 3

Same as Draft A except length of first and second semester

In mid-April, the district put four calendar options on its website to cull community input on ideas for the future, a survey it has done routinely since Superintendent Brad Meeks took over three years ago.

The options had a few slight changes in features from its current year. Draft A included an early start (Aug. 19) and a June 2 end. Draft B included an Aug. 18 start, and earlier end on May 27 with a shortened Blues Break to two days. Draft C was the traditional calendar, virtually the same as the current year, and Draft D looked much like Draft A, but adjusted semester lengths.

The survey results were released at the May 19 School Board meeting and revealed that of the 532 votes, nearly 44 percent favored Draft B with the two-day Blues Break and the earlier end to the school year. The survey was non-scientific, and voters could pick their choices multiple times, if they chose to do so.

On Monday, contention arose as Draft A appeared to be Meeks’ proposal to the board, despite it only garnering 6.58 percent of the vote, the least of any of the four options.

But as Meeks explained Thursday, the survey is simply in place to gauge community interest and that when it boils down to it, there never seems to be one right or wrong answer.

“I’ve been doing calendars for a long time, and no matter where I’ve been and how I’ve done them, it's always like 50-50,” Meeks said. “In the end, you just have to pick one and go with it.”

There are benefits and ramifications to all options, Meeks said. Start and end dates as well as the length of Blues Break, are at the forefront of discussions.

The district traditionally has opened the school year the final week of August and wrapped up around the second week of June with a five-day Blues Break. An early start gives the district more classroom time to prepare for higher-stakes state testing.

But an early end to the school year could mean less time to crunch the new teacher evaluations between spring break and the final day of the calendar.

Draft A, as Meeks explains it, includes an early start date, a June 2 end as well as the regular late spring break to appease Ski Corp. and its parent employees who wish to take their children on vacation at this time. The superintendent said Monday that he has been in talks with various entities, including Steamboat Ski Area, to make sure as many options are explored as possible with those affected.

Meeks said creating calendars typically end in no-win situations, though, and that personal agendas can’t all be met adequately.

“A lot of times people pick calendars for their own personal preferences,” Meeks said. “We are trying to develop one that meets our needs academically and one that meets the needs of the community, too, and to try to find that balance.”

City Recreation Manager Susan Petersen — a parent of two district students — voiced a number of concerns Monday with the board possibly voting in Draft A, despite its small response from the surveys.

Petersen questioned the district for implementing 172 school days instead of the Colorado Department of Education required 162. She also was a vocal proponent of scaling back Blues Break to two days in Draft B’s calendar. The early start date also concerned Petersen and her fellow parents, she said, citing its conflict with the county fair, among other things.

“It’s a really, really touchy subject,” Petersen said. “There are no easy answers.”

The board tabled the motion, with a possible adoption date at the June 16 meeting, the final for the school year. Meeks said Thursday that he plans to meet with Petersen and others sometime next week to discuss the matter. Petersen said about 20 parents have shown her interest in attending the meeting when the calendar is to be decided on.

The sooner a 2015-16 calendar is decided, however, the more time all parties affected have to prepare their own schedules, he added.

“Two years’ worth of calendars give people what’s going to happen long in advance, and you can plan for it,” Meeks said. “Families can build their schedules around it. The sooner I can let people know that, the better. They can adjust for that.”

To reach Ben Ingersoll, call 970-871-4204, email bingersoll@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @BenMIngersoll

Comments

Clay Ogden 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Here's the thing ... what's the point of asking for input if the decision doesn't factor that input into the decision. Mr. Meeks should know exactly what I am referring to.

If you already know what you are going to do then grow a backbone, make the decision and don't waste anyone else's time.

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Melanie Turek 4 months, 2 weeks ago

"Draft A, as Meeks explains it, includes an early start date, a June 2 end as well as the five-day Blues Break to appease Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. during the busy season. "

Umm... what? The Pilot should have explained why the school district needs to appease the ski corp. with its school calendar.

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Melanie Turek 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Thanks for the clarification, that makes MUCH more sense.

On a separate note, I certainly hope the school does not decide to cut 10 academic days from the calendar even though the state doesn't mandate them. The SS schools are highly rated and are delivering a great education to our kids--please let's not cut into that learning time as you revise the calendar!

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Krista Monger 4 months, 2 weeks ago

I wish the pilot would put another calendar option on the poll. Start at the same time, smaller blues break, get out earlier.

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jerry carlton 4 months, 2 weeks ago

When I went to school we were out June through August. It was called summer vacation. No blues break, no spring break. About 4 or 5 days off at Christmas. The same year after year. No big debate or controversy every year. Of course we prayed every morning and said the pledge of allegiance. Different time.

1

Scott Wedel 4 months, 2 weeks ago

The 10 extra days is not arbitrary. The lesson plans get hard to fit into the state minimum number of days.

I think there is a giant question on the relevance of Blues Break for Ski Corps employees. Ski Corps does not employ a majority of local parents. This is not like the old days when virtually every business closed for a month or two. Now days, most stay open.

Also, travel patterns have changed and far fewer take week long vacations so a 2 day break is enough for most people.

So, there are good reasons to believe that the poll results for a 2 day Blues Break is representative of the wishes of the parents.

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Chris Ingersoll 4 months, 1 week ago

As a California educator I have been witness to many discussions of school days: start/finish dates, staff days, holidays, etc.. The number of hours (in-seat/at your desk student time is generally a set standard that is not messed with. The only negotiation is between the start and stop dates. I can understand a few raised eyebrows should a " Blues Break" be considered solely for a private enterprise. Is that true and the reason alone? Or is this a local tradition? As a tradition perhaps a realistic pole of the current school parents might be the insight needed by the current administration.

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