Proposed 2018-19 Calendar
We know that while everyone has a stake in the school calendar, no single calendar will ever meet the needs of all students, staff, parents, and community members. We are, however, dedicated to creating a calendar that best supports student learning and also meets the majority of our stakeholders’ calendar interests. We want you to know what feedback we received on calendar interests and the rationale for the proposed 2018-19 calendar.
What We Heard From You
The Roaring Fork Schools asked for feedback on calendar interests from staff and the general public from mid-December through mid-January. Over 600 people participated in the public survey and over 300 certified staff participated in the annual Interest Based Bargaining (IBB) that asked questions regarding calendar interests. You can see an analysis of the public survey results here.
Public survey participants expressed a strong opposition to an extended school year. Additionally, several local seasonal employers provided feedback that extending the school year beyond what is typical for Colorado school districts would be a burden because of these businesses’ reliance on staff and student summer employees. (See letters from local businesses regarding this issue here.) We also heard from our staff and parents that reducing summer break would negatively impact the summer employment opportunities for both staff and students. Unfortunately, due to the high cost of living in our valley and the declining school funding over the past decade, many teachers and other staff members rely on summer employment in order to continue teaching.
Public survey participants expressed support for a 9 a.m. start for high school students, while staff expressed opposition to that late of a start. In response to this feedback, the planning committee is conducting additional outreach and research to determine whether or not the district should adopt a late start for high school students. We feel that we can finalize the school calendar while continuing to research the start and end times of the high school day; if this research continues past mid-spring, a decision to implement would have to be postponed for another year. We feel that thorough investigation of this topic will allow us to settle the matter rather than continually revisiting it from year to year.
Staff expressed their desire for more rest and planning time between quarters and semesters. We had consistent feedback that we should return to providing a full day for parent-teacher conferences.
Proposed 2018-19 Calendar
We had anticipated sharing multiple drafts for public feedback. However, the calendar committee was able to create a single calendar draft for the 2018-19 school year that both reflects the staff and community feedback and is in line with the established calendar parameters of 174 instructional days and 185 staff days.
This draft has two key elements: a mid-August start and extra time for grading, planning, and rejuvenation between the academic quarters.
Rationale for a mid-August start:
- Accommodating staff, student, and local business needs for summer employment.
- Allowing the first semester to end before winter break, which will benefit both staff and students. This year, staff and students returned from winter break and spent a week or more reviewing material for the end-of-semester tests.
- This semester alignment benefits students taking college courses.
- A mid-August start provides additional instructional days prior to student testing, especially Advanced Placement tests for which students can earn college credit.
- This start date is also aligned with the Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) schedule so that athletes do not need to return so much earlier than their peers (as was the case this year).
- Many of our peer districts have calendars that start in mid-August and end by mid-June.
Rationale for the additional break days between academic quarters:
- 75 percent of certified staff identified additional break days at the end of each quarter and throughout the year as a need.
- Staff who are well-rested and rejuvenated are undoubtedly better educators for our students. Students, too, need time to recover and return strong at the start of a new quarter.
- At the end of each quarter, teachers need time to evaluate assessments, enter grades, write comments, and prepare lessons not just for the next day, but for the entire unit of study.
- Although we always receive some feedback from parents that non-instructional days pose childcare challenges, the number of instructional days remains the same for this calendar. There are no additional days for which parents will need to find child care accommodations with this calendar.
Everyone was invited to provide feedback on this proposed calendar draft through a survey that closed on Friday, February 16.
Based on feedback,the committee hopes to present a final calendar recommendation to the board in March for approval during three board meetings, with a final calendar published in April.