Calendar conundrum

It's a question that, at first glance, appears inconsequential.

When should the Moffat County School District take winter break -- before or after ending the first semester?

Granted, the issue seems of little concern in the overall scheme of educating students. Certainly there are other pressing matters for the school district, the lowest funded in the state, to consider.

But, underneath it all lies an important question. And the answer could have ramifications on students' testing performances and final grades.

The school board, currently considering three options for the district's three-year calendar, is gauging public opinion on this question. Two of those options entail ending the semester in January after the two-week Christmas break, and a third proposes ending the semester in December, before the holiday leave.

The difference between options 1 and 2 and option 3 lies with the testing schedule students face.

Under options 1 and 2, students would take their final exams during the two-week gap between returning from break and semester's end, which fell on Friday this year.

Under option 3, students would take their final exams before leaving for winter break.

The editorial board believes the timing disparity could mean all the difference in the world to some students. For some, recalling a semester's worth of knowledge following a break might not be all that difficult.

For others, that two-week layoff is bound to be enough to wipe the slate, to forget, or at least have difficulty remembering course work leading up to final exams. This is particularly true considering many teachers opt to not assign homework during break.

So the real question is this: which option is better for education, the meat and potatoes of all school districts? Give credit to district officials for saying the crux of their decision will be based on what is deemed educationally advantageous to the student body.

Also credit them for seeking outside input before making the decision. The district has already taken comments from teachers and is now opening the line of dialogue up to parents.

Patrons may comment on the calendars by visiting the Web site, www.moffatsd.org and clicking on "take the school calendar proposal survey" at the top of the page.

The editorial board encourages all district parents and faculty to take part in this process and give earnest thought and consideration before commenting.

The more feedback, the better a decision the board will make, which reverberates back to benefiting students.

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