Parents voice concern about proposed calendar | CraigDailyPress.com

Parents voice concern about proposed calendar

More than 50 parents attended SDAC meeting

More than 50 parents and community members filled the Moffat County School District board room Thursday to voice questions and concerns about the current proposed 2010-11 school calendar.

The School District Accountability Committee, a group of parents and community members, accommodated the visitors by allowing almost an hour of its monthly meeting to be used for small-group collaboration and public comment on the calendar.

Superintendent Joe Petrone said he welcomed the group of concerned parents and wanted to give everyone the chance to have their voice heard before the calendar goes to final vote before the Moffat County School Board on Feb. 25.

"We want to listen to what you say and take it to heart and take it with us when we look at the proposal," Petrone said to the group. "The process that we're going to use is getting as many people to speak up. We want to do our very best to accommodate everyone. But it's virtually impossible to satisfy everyone."

Major qualms with the calendar included the proposed start date of Aug. 19 being too early and the proposed bi-monthly collaboration, which would result in early releases.

In the current proposal, which Petrone said still will undergo changes before next week's vote as community feedback is taken into account, there will be an early release by two hours every other Monday to allow teachers time to collaborate on curriculum.

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The consensus at the meeting was that Monday collaboration time could present difficulties for family work schedules, day care and a financial burden.

Karen Maneotis, a parent of two students in the district, said she represented a group of about 20 parents who had combined their ideas.

"What happens to kids who have no one home?" she asked about the proposed Monday collaboration time. "What about kids left at home alone and ones running around town? Attendance will be down because kids will just stay at home those days. Monday is always a crazy day. Collaboration is needed. Teachers need to get together but do not need to do it on instructional time."

Some parents argued whether collaboration time was necessary at all, or if the teachers could collaborate in a way that would not alter the school day schedule.

Petrone said he will take the comments to heart but is adamant that district-wide collaboration time is a necessity to create a "professional learning environment."

As for the start date, Maneotis represented at the meeting a group of National FFA Organization, 4-H and agriculture program parents. She said because of the State Fair in late August, agriculture students missed a lot of classes in the beginning of the year when school begins anytime before Labor Day.

Other parents agreed, adding that the schools are too hot in August and make for a poor learning environment.

Petrone said the calendar development committee will present a new proposal to the board at a work session before the Feb. 25 meeting. He said if the board deems it necessary, the vote could be pushed back.

"In my experience in education, you cannot satisfy everyone with any calendar," he said. "We will do the very best we can to satisfy, but number one is to satisfy needs of the children, and then families are right there as well."

Nicole Inglis can be reached at 875-1793, or ninglis@craigdailypress.com.

Budget reduction template presented

Moffat County Superintendent Joe Petrone presented a first draft of proposed budget reductions for the 2010-11 school year Thursday at the School District Accountability meeting. Because of a 7.75 percent decrease in state funding and possible expense increases, the district is looking to cut from $1.8 million to $2.8 million from its $20 million budget.

The first draft of the budget reduction template works as an outline for future discussions, Petrone said.

He said the budget will be discussed at upcoming school board, SDAC and Parent Advisory Committee meetings, and it will be finalized in June.

A few features of the draft template include:

• Increase athletic and book fees

• Reduce paid holidays for central office staff

• Reduce high school administration by one position

• Reduce high school and middle school extracurricular activities expenses by 10 to 30 percent

• Reduce school supply expenses by 10 to 20 percent

• Reduce School Board and Superintendent travel expenses by $10,000

• Restrict distance of out-of-town bussing

• Possible voter-approved mill levy override of 20 to 25 percent

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