Parents, staff meet with administrators regarding proposed calendar |

Parents, staff meet with administrators regarding proposed calendar

School board calls special meeting next Wednesday to discuss concerns or changes

Sunset Elementary in Craig, Colorado on Dec. 17, 2021.
Billy Schuerman / For the Craig Press

Parents, staff and administrators gathered in the Moffat County School District administrative building Tuesday to discuss the proposed new calendar for the 2022-2023 school year. Tuesday night was the first of two listening sessions hosted by the district to hear pros and cons before voting on the calendar.

“We’ll get all of the (feedback from the sessions) and give it to the board,” Superintendent Scott Pankow said. “They will, in their work session, take those suggestions, all the emails that they’ve gotten, and then go back to the committee and say, ‘Hey, look, this is what we want. This is what we’re hearing.’ And go from there.”

On Feb. 9, there will be a special work session by the MCSD board of education to review public comments from the listening sessions. That meeting will be held at 5 p.m. During its scheduled meeting Feb. 17 — bumped up a week from its previously scheduled date — the board could vote on any updates. If it does not vote, the calendar must be voted on in another meeting before the state’s deadline in March.

Currently, the committee has released three years of four-day calendars to be used over the next three school years. Pankow said this was done in order to have a complete view on how the district reacts to the change.

“In the first two years, our thought was to go into June to give us some more time, and there’s two reasons for that,” he said. “One is the implementation dip when you are starting something new and starting to plan the scope and sequence. Our teachers have a scope and sequence of what they give, and they would have to then condense that right to four days. That’s planning that takes some time.”

Pankow said by the third year, the goal is that they would no longer need those extra days for adjusting. The district would still have the four-day week, but the school year would begin and end closer to when it has using a five-day schedule.

The consensus among most of the group was that specifically having four days per week was preferred, but the weeks of classes starting earlier in August and later in June was a major topic of discussion during public comment. Some parents said summer activities — like sports, vacations and preparing for the county fair — would be impacted if the current calendar were implemented. Parents at the meeting were vocal about supporting longer days as opposed to a longer school year.

Ryan Dennison, parks and recreation director for the city of Craig, spoke during public comment on Tuesday and outlined how a shortened summer will affect certain aspects of parks and rec. He said that, since most of the staff during the summer are youth, this could change swimming lessons, summer sports and other summer activities.

“That leaves kind of a void in our staffing operations,” Dennison said. “They’re such a vital line to what we do at parks and recreation, and they do an absolutely tremendous job and we’re super thankful for all of them. What would also be impacted would be our swim lessons. Again, we offer five two-week sessions and courses are taught by a (water safety instructor), which is a 40-hour course for new lifeguards. If there’s a delay in that, there will be a delay in our swim lessons that we can anticipate to offer the public. We’re looking like we could anticipate from 11 and a half to 12 and a half weeks of swimming per season can be cut down to seven weeks.”

Parents also expressed concern about the beginning of the school year impacting 4-H activities during the Moffat County Fair. While the school year is set to begin the Monday after animals are sold, some said that two days is not enough time for students to get ready to go back to classes. Faculty who are also parents are concerned that the staff professional development week landing during the fair could cause conflicts with how they can participate, as well.

Shay White, a teacher at the middle school who is also a parent, said that she does support a four-day week because of the professional development time, but having her in-service days during the fair could mean she would have to choose between her occupational duties and her parental ones. During the fair, weigh-ins and events are throughout the day, which means parents who are also staff might have to leave in order to make sure their children are taken care of.

“That’s a concern of the staff member because my due diligence as a teacher is to go and get ready for the school year,” White said. “But then I have the due diligence of being a parent.”

Krystal Fedinec, who is a parent and an MCSD school board board member, said that she supports the four-day calendar and thanked the committee for the work that had been put in to create the option for the district. However, she said she hopes that any future versions would leave more weeks in the summer open for families to spend more time together as well as providing teachers with a much-needed break between school years.

“I think a teacher deserves a break just as much as anybody else, and they have one of the hardest jobs there is,” Fedinec said. “So I feel like our teachers deserve a longer summer as well. And last thing is I am 100% for more quality education versus the quantity.”

Next Tuesday, there will be another session for the public from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the administration building, followed by a special board of education workshop on Wednesday. The committee will make any updates on Feb. 10.

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