Aspen school calendar a done deal |

Aspen school calendar a done deal

Jeanne McGovern
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado

ASPEN – The Aspen Board of Education put the calendar debate to rest Monday by approving a traditional school year for 2011-12 and 2012-13.

“We have worked hard on this for a long time, and we have heard a lot of opinions,” said school board member Bob Glah. “But it’s time to make a decision, because there a lot of other issues we need to be discussing.”

Aspen Superintendent Dr. John Maloy sent a draft calendar to parents and staff last week seeking input. He received 35 comments; 14 of which were from teachers, most of whom at the elementary school level.

“I’m frankly surprised we didn’t hear more,” said board member Charla Belinski. “I really am surprised.”

Added Glah: “I think that the lack of comments to us and John (Maloy) reflects a tired population that thinks we’ve created a decent calendar they can live with.”

In fact, Monday’s decision comes after nearly six months of school board meetings and public forums, e-mail debates and heated conversations about what type of school calendar is best for Aspen school kids: traditional or alternative calendar. The school board shot down the idea of an alternative calendar in January, but remained open to “tweaks.” Then in February, after reviewing three options including a traditional calendar and two modified versions, the board directed Maloy to move ahead with an essentially unchanged model. This is the calendar that was approved Monday.

“I think this calendar takes into consideration all of our discussions and all of the input we’ve received,” Maloy said. “We can’t please everyone, of course, but this best represents what we’ve heard and learned.”

The only notable changes to the existing calendar are the addition of a full week off at Thanksgiving and a shift in the traditional fall break, which will now be comprised of two days of parent-teacher conferences and a teacher work day. This created some concern among school board members, who worried parents might blow off conferences to take an extended vacation.

“It seems to me that if parents take their children’s education seriously, they will make the decision to be at the parent-teacher conference and not go on vacation,” Glah said.

School board members were also concerned that the change in the October schedule gives teachers no days off from the start of school through Thanksgiving. They could find no way to work around this, however.

“We’ve tried to accommodate a lot of people and a lot of schedules through this process,” said school board president Fred Peirce. “But what I still go back to is what is best for kids and their education.

“And what we heard from our principals is that fewer broken up weeks, the better. And that is what this creates.”

Maloy added that while some teachers – especially at the elementary school level – will bemoan the lack of days off in the fall, AES Principal Doreen Goldyn said it was not an issue in her eyes.

Other aspects of the school calendar are essentially unchanged, with school starting in late August and ending in early June (except for high school seniors, who would graduate over Memorial Day weekend), spring break in March and AHS ExEd in April. The same is true for the 2012-13 school calendar. Both versions are available for review at