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School board approves next year’s calendar

Reid Williams

SUMMIT COUNTY – In the world of educational policy-making, nothing garners as passionate a response as the school calendar. But with a survey, Summit School Board members think they’ve come up with a schedule everyone can live with.

Board members Wednesday approved the calendar school for the 2002-03 school year. The calendar extends the students’ year by two days and changes two four-day weekends to three-day weekends. Voters told district officials to add the extra days with the passage of a mill levy increase in November. School administrators took the question of where to slip in the extra days to voters a second time with a survey.

“We sent home the survey last Wednesday, and by Friday had about 700 responses,” Assistant Superintendent Millie Hamner said. “Some surveys are still coming in, but it’s pretty clear what parents want.”

The survey asked parents if they preferred extending the school year by adding all four days to the end of the year, by using the four days of previously scheduled long weekends in February and March or by adding two days to the end of the year and Mondays of the long weekends. Fifty percent of the 743 responses chose the latter.

The second survey question asked parents about their preference for scheduling half-days. On these days, students will attend school until lunchtime, and teachers will receive professional training in the afternoon. Parents were asked to choose Tuesdays or Fridays once each quarter. About 76 percent of the 652 responses indicated Fridays were the most popular choice.

Some school board members worried whether parents’ desires conflicted with the best education practice in this instance. Board member Marshall Denkinger said he disagreed with assigning teachers to professional development on Fridays and that he wondered how many students would be absent on the half-days. He suggested Tuesdays would be a better choice.

“Let’s have a bit of compromise for what’s best for parents, kids and teachers,” Denkinger said.

His urgings were enough to convince the other board members. The school board voted to schedule two half-days on Fridays (Oct. 11 and Feb. 14) and two half-days on Tuesdays (Jan. 14 and May 13). In the same vote, the board approved following parents’ request to lengthen the school year by two days and add back two Mondays from former four-day weekends (Feb. 3 and March 10).

Reid Williams can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 237 or rwilliams@summitdaily.com.


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