Craig The Moffat County School Board finalized the school year calendar for the next three years at its monthly meeting Thursday.
In a 5-1 vote, the board approved a calendar that features an Aug. 30 start date and a 75-minute early release each Friday district-wide to allow for teacher collaboration time.
Board member Tony St. John said before the vote he would oppose the motion because he believed the district, community and board could come to a better consensus regarding the weekly collaboration time.
“I want to thank everybody; the collaboration group and the calendar group,” he said. “However, the collaboration part (of the proposed calendar) kind of bothers me. Faculty, teachers and parents … we need to work with them also. I just really feel there are some parents who are going to have a problem with a meeting of teachers.”
He said if the vote was shelved for a later date, there might be a better option that had yet to be explored.
Board president JoAnn Baxter also thanked the community and parents for their input as well as the “determination and fortitude” of the calendar committee and faculty. But she said it was important to wrap up the issue with a vote Thursday.
“It’s tempting to postpone this for another month,” she said. “We could do that, but we’d not make a lot of progress to do so. We have huge budget issues to deal with, and we’re just not going to have time. My personal feeling is not to postpone this at this time. Students and teachers need to know what’s coming and what this calendar is going to be like so we can go onto other things.”
Before the board voted, there were several questions from the audience regarding the weekly collaboration time among teachers that would require an early release district-wide on Fridays.
Several parents wanted to be sure it was a necessary addition and wanted to be assured that measures of accountability were in place to be sure this time was used effectively.
Some said they believed collaboration time did not need to be taken out of time during the school day and should be moved to another time.
Superintendent Joe Petrone and calendar committee chair Mark Rydberg assured the board and community members that the number of instructional hours will remain the same — 1,068 hours — and the days will be made slightly longer to accommodate collaboration time.
Baxter, who worked as a teacher for 29 years, said collaboration time, which already has been in effect at Moffat County High School for several years, is critical to achieving the mission and vision of the district.
“All the time I taught, it was one more thing after another,” she said. “I would say, ‘If you could just give me some time. More than anything else, I needed more time. (Teachers’) time is so valuable that we want them to have this time to make a better situation for our kids.”
As the board approached a vote, Baxter commented on the difficulty of calendar issues throughout her career in education.
“I served on many calendar committees in the process,” she said. “I know from experience that, to paraphrase, we can please some people some of the time, but we can’t please all the people all the time.
“At the end of the day, we might have to agree to disagree.”
Petrone said he also realized not everyone would be satisfied with the outcome, but he was pleased with the level of input and how the calendar committee, board, faculty and parents worked to come to a compromise.
“It’s one of these processes we go through that can’t satisfy everyone, but we think people participated and that is appreciated,” he said.