New class schedules nearly a done deal | VailDaily.com
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New class schedules nearly a done deal

Christine Ina Casillas

The district is making the changes “to keep tabs on student achievement,” he said.

The district recently held public meetings to discuss bell-time changes that the district intends to implement for the 2003-04 school year.

Proposed changes had called for all elementary schools in the district to begin the day at 7:45 a.m. and end at 2:30 p.m. All district middle schools and high schools were to begin the day at 8:15 a.m. and end at 3:35 p.m.

Now, all district elementary schools will begin at 8 a.m., Preusser told the Eagle County School Board Wednesday.

Parents voiced concerns about safety and the walking distance from home to the bus stops. Others said they were worried about the lack of family time because of too much time spent travelling to and from school.

The first and foremost concern, however, is safety for students crossing streets and highways, said John Brendza, assistant superintendent of the school district.

“Compromise’

“What is the most beneficial to the parents, students and staff?” Preusser added. “Compromise.”

The district has made no decision about the time changes, but administrators plan to adjust bus routes and schedules to accommodate the changes in class schedules, he said.

“Parents need to feel that their children are safe,” Preusser said. “We need to codify the process of the timelines.”

The above compromise will brighten the walk time for elementary students in the mornings, Preusser said.

After-school care providers, meanwhile, have said they are willing to compromise on a work schedule, as well as provide service at a low cost, ranging from $3 to $4 an hour.

“Compromise, though, doesn’t come without a price,” Preusser said.

The negative implications of the time changes revolve around later after-school athletic practices at the secondary level, he said.

“Athletes are our most resilient kids,” he said. “They are fully engaged in school, and we want to make sure these added personal challenges are handled effectively.”

Eagle County School Board member Scott Green, however, questioned the district’s decision about changing the bell times, saying “a lot of concerns (from parents) have been half-answered.”

“We’ve taken a pretty good beating from all of this. If it’s all about student achievement – we are elected officials – there’s a lot of concerns. Our salesmanship to the community has been completely inadequate,” Green said. “It’s not intentional – and change is hard – but we ended up in miscommunication and constraints, making (some of) the kids walk to school.”

Educating for success

Green asked the district to look at the mission of educating every student for success.

“Are we educating every student for success. I just hope that we make a sound decision, instead of chasing this thing around for the next year,” Green said. “We also need to make sure that a majority of the questions are answered and that our communication with the community is a priority.”

School board member Connie Kincaid-Strahan said she agreed.

“We need to get the questions answered before we set the new times in stone,” she said. “I’d like to see something concrete.”

At prior meetings, parents addressed the school board with similar concerns about: the safety of children walking to and from school in areas with no sidewalks; on crowded roads or in the dark; the cost of after-school care for their children; and conflicting schedules with middle- and high-school students.

“It’s important to take some responsibility as a parent,” said Barbara Schierkolk, president of the Eagle County School Board. “At school, our job is education. Adding an after-school program has helped a lot, but now people expect it.

“I hope all of those questions will be answered by the end of the year.”

Christine Ina Casillas can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 607 or at ccasillas@vaildaily.com.


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