Roaring Fork schools adopt new calendars |

Roaring Fork schools adopt new calendars

Beginning next year, Re-1 schools will release students early on Wednesdays — providing a designated time for teachers to meet and plan — instead of starting school later on Monday mornings.

The change was made after a short public hearing last week in a unanimous vote by the Roaring Fork School District's board of education. The new calendars were approved for the next two school years.

In addition to taking statements from community members, the board conducted a pair of surveys — one of parents and another of staff. Re-1 Superintendent Diana Sirko presented the data.

The majority of staff surveyed, as well as at least 50 parents, were wholly in favor of the new schedule. Many respondents compared it favorably to late start Mondays. One teacher observed that, "Having the first day of each week be hectic and rushed [because of the shorter class periods] impacts the way the whole week feels."

More than 80 parents, as well as some teachers, were entirely against the idea.

"Taking time out of the children's academic learning time is not an appropriate way to address teacher enrichment," one response read.

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An additional 23 parents suggested Fridays as a better candidate for early release, since school athletics already result in some students leaving school early. The board, however, felt that such a move might encourage students to skip the day entirely in an effort to take a three day weekend. A similar criticism was also leveled at late start Mondays.

Many of the negative responses from both parents and teachers cited the need for a place for students to go on Wednesday afternoons. To address this concern, the district is partnering with the Aspen Community Foundation to provide after school programming as part of the latter's Cradle to Career Initiative.

"You had to find a place for the kids to go after school," parent Diana Elliott told the assembly. "I would say that that has been answered and taken care of."

"The backing of the Cradle to Career Initiative is the ace in the hole," Sirko agreed.

Even so, she said she was "surprised at the lack of outcry," compared to previous calendar changes. She cited enhanced community outreach as a possible reason. "We've made a lot of phone calls," she said.

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