Roaring Fork Schools board OKs school-year calendar for 2018-19 | PostIndependent.com

Roaring Fork Schools board OKs school-year calendar for 2018-19

School for Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt students and teachers will start back up in mid-August, with additional breaks after each quarter, according to a 2018-19 school-year calendar approved by the local school board last week.

Those are the two major changes from this year and previous calendars, after this year's post-Labor Day start during the Grand Avenue Bridge detour and while several school building projects were being completed.

The Aug. 20 start is more in line with other school districts in the area, including Garfield Re-2 and District 16, as well as other Western Slope school districts.

However, the last day of school will be June 5, 2019, to compensate for several breaks after each quarter, which are meant to allow more rest and planning time for staff, according to Roaring Fork Schools officials.

The calendar was developed by a committee that was charged with facilitating the process and conducting outreach with parents and teachers.

"Teachers, administrators, and parents all came together to build a calendar that met as many goals and desires as possible to ensure that staff and students are prepared to do their best learning and teaching," Rhonda Tatham, president of the Roaring Fork Community Education Association, said in a district news release after the board approved the calendar at its April 11 meeting.

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The calendar was developed with staff and community feedback, including surveys, around the required parameter of providing 174 instructional days.

The earlier start and later end to the school year has caused some concern among parents and students, who point out that the summer break is getting shorter and shorter. That can impact high school-aged students' ability to work summer jobs, parents have said.

"There are always competing interests in calendar planning," said Superintendent Rob Stein. "First and foremost is student learning. The second most important thing we considered is how the calendar can set up teachers to do their best teaching.

"Those interests should be at the forefront of everything we do," he said.

The earlier start to the year also allows the first semester to end before winter break, rather than in January. That will benefit both staff and students, Stein said.

"In previous years, students returned from winter break to spend a week or more reviewing material for the end-of-semester tests," he said. "Ending the semester before break means staff are spending more instructional time on presenting material rather than reviewing it.

"Not to mention, it ensures that students and teachers really get a break," Stein said in the release.

The mid-August start also aligns with Colorado Mountain College semesters and athletic schedules, and provides additional instructional days prior to Advanced Placement tests for which students can earn college credit, he also noted.

The additional mid-year break days were added in response to staff feedback, including a survey that found 75 percent of staff who identified more rest and planning time between quarters and semesters as a need.

"We know that our staff are tasked with an immense amount of additional work at the end of each quarter and semester," Stein added.

The committee intentionally placed the extra breaks after early release Wednesdays so that staff can use Wednesday afternoons to wrap up before taking a break on Thursday and Friday, he said.

"We know that staff who are well-rested are better educators for our students," Stein said. "Of course, these extra break days also give our students time to recover and return strong at the start of a new quarter."

In addition to a Thanksgiving week break from Nov. 19-23 and winter break from Dec. 21-Jan. 4, quarter breaks are scheduled for Oct. 18-19, plus an extended spring break from March 21-29.

Initially, the calendar committee had also looked at a later start to the school day for high schools. The committee is still exploring that option for 2019-20 and beyond, but did not implement that change for next school year.

"The committee will be doing additional research and outreach to determine if a later start is the right decision for our high schools," according to the district release.