Phyllis DeLong: Calendar issues
February 17, 2010
To the editor:
I am writing about what I consider to be a very important issue facing the parents, children and education system in Moffat County.
The Moffat County School Board is preparing to vote on the school calendar 2010-11-12. I disagree with some aspects of the calendar and think many of you will, too.
The proposed start date is Aug. 19, 2010. Many will tell you that we have always started early in August until they pushed the date back to the Tuesday after Labor Day to accommodate the Craig Middle School construction and added a few minutes to the instructional day.
I like the later start. CMS is the only building in the district with air conditioning. Most of the classrooms, especially elementary, have limited windows that can be open for ventilation, and doors cannot be left open because of security issues. Children can become hot and sweaty, making for a poor learning environment.
Those preparing the calendar will tell you that it is necessary to add nine days to the calendar to help prepare for CSAP testing in March. Those of us opposing the calendar say "OK, give us our later start, leave the longer day and cut out some of the 'extra' days off during the year."
The hours that are required by the state are in place, they just need to be used more effectively.
There is also a plan for early release twice a month. The idea behind this plan is to allow teachers districtwide to get together and collaborate. This will be K-12 and right now is scheduled for Mondays. Your student will be getting out of school every other Monday two hours early.
If we need to add days to prepare for CSAP, why not continue to use this time for classroom instruction? This bi-monthly early release will cause a hardship for working parents, additional day care cost and possibly time lost from work. If your child has a Title 1 or Special Education Intervention, they will also be losing four hours per month learning time. Even if they did add a collaboration day each month and have a two-hour early release, wouldn't it make more sense to do it on Fridays?
The argument here is that coaches will be gone and can't participate. So not only will students who are in extracurricular activities miss Friday afternoons and other days during the week for their activities, but they will also be gone for early release four hours more per month, losing more instructional time. Not all coaches are teachers, and not all coaches are coaching at the same time.
If you are concerned about any of the details concerning the school calendar, please come to the School Accountability meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Administration Building. For the committee and the board to listen, our collective voice must be heard to show there are more than just a few who want the calendar changed.