Eagle County Schools set two-year academic calendar | VailDaily.com

Eagle County Schools set two-year academic calendar

Cindy Ramunno/Special to the Daily

The Eagle County School District Board of Education approved a two-year academic calendar for students last week.

The school calendars for the 2004-2005 and 2005-2006 school year were created by a committee representing all 16 schools in the district. The committee was led by district principals Mark Strakbein and Cyndy Secrist.

“From the very onset of this calendar adoption process, the board indicated a desire to develop a community calendar – a schedule that addressed the chief concerns of our parents, students and staff,” says Strakbein. “This calendar hits that mark and the volunteers who helped formulate this plan spent a lot of time and energy in this effort.”

The biggest news is bell times for secondary and elementary schools will remain the same as this year. Last spring and fall, the change in bell times caused some controversy.

The elementary school day starts at 8 a.m. and ends at 2:50 p.m. while high schools and middle schools students start classes at 8:30 a.m. and end at 3:50 p.m. Calendar committee members conducted an extensive phone survey this year which resulted in 430 responses – nearly 10 percent of families in the district.

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The committee also had to incorporate several state and district guidelines in developing the calendar.

Schools must meet minimum class time requirements determined by the state of Colorado. The district requires 3.5 teacher training days, 3.5 teacher work days and two comp days for parent teacher conferences. Additionally, the difference in the number of school days between the first and second semester cannot vary by more than six days.

Survey results indicated an overwhelming support for the first semester ending before the winter break, which hasn’t happened in the past.

CiCi Franklin – an Eagle parent and committee member – said the committee tried hard to create a calendar that was desirable for students and parents, yet academically sound. “There are so many parameters you have to work with in developing the school calendar,” Franklin said.

School board members noted that the extensive survey done in conjunction with the calendar was particularly important and urged the group to regularly poll parents about the school schedule.

Survey results revealed the following:

n 42 percent of respondents said they would prefer a full-day training sessions for teachers; 31 percent wanted a three-day training break in October and 27 percent supported the current half-day training.

– The respondents were roughly split on the subject of school breaks: 54 percent favored shorter breaks during the year while 46 percent did not. On specific holidays, 51 percent supported a shorter Thanksgiving break but only 33 percent supported a shorter Christmas break.

– 55 percent of respondents indicated support for the current, three-day break in October.

– 68 percent of respondents supported ending the first semester before winter break.

– Late March was the top choice for spring break: 41 percent supported that timing, compared to 26 percent for mid-April, 20 percent for late April and 13 percent for mid-March.

Questions about bell times revealed the following:

– 74 percent of respondents said the new bell times have not prevented their children from participating in extra-curricular activities.

– 67 percent of respondents said they do not rely upon a secondary student to supervise younger students.

– While 59 percent of respondents indicated they would prefer to see secondary schools begin the day first, 59 percent of those surveyed also indicated that bell times should remain the same as they currently are.

While bell times will not change next fall, committee members have recommended that next year’s calendar committee closely monitor specific issues – including grades and tardiness statistics at elementary and secondary schools – to determine the overall effectiveness of the bell time changes. Additionally, next year’s committee will study attendance data from Thanksgiving break to determine if changes resulted in higher absenteeism.

For more information on the district calendar, call 328-1923.

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