Aspen school calendar: same as it ever was |

Aspen school calendar: same as it ever was

Jeanne McGovern
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado

ASPEN – Aside from a full week off at Thanksgiving, the 2011-12 Aspen school calendar – sent to parents for review on Wednesday – will likely mirror the current one.

“There is no significant difference between this calendar and the traditional calendar as we have known it,” said Aspen Superintendent Dr. John Maloy. “And I’d like to think we are close to finalizing the calendar with this draft.”

In sending a draft calendar for the next two school years to district parents Wednesday, Maloy noted, “We have asked teachers and support staff to voice their opinions on the current drafts and would appreciate your feedback as well.” Comments will be accepted until 9 a.m. Monday; the Aspen Board of Education meets that afternoon to review and perhaps approve the calendar.

“What I’ve chosen to do with the calendar is based on what I’ve heard from the board, the teachers and staff, the students, and the community,” Maloy said.

A case in point, according to Maloy, is the full week off at Thanksgiving. In addition, the calendar up for consideration reconfigures parent-teachers conferences. For example, fall conferences – currently held in November – are scheduled for October.

“With the full week off in November, everyone felt we needed to move these days off,” explained Maloy. “By moving them to our traditional fall break, families who can plan their conferences on the first scheduled date can still have a long weekend before the winter resort season, if that is important to their family.”

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, which also will be presented to the board on Monday.

The calendars released Wednesday are the result of 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.

Regardless, Maloy does not see the months-long calendar conversation as futile.

“This process allowed us to gather some important data,” he said. “It allowed us to really see where our students, teachers and parents fell with regard to the calendar.

“And I think we also discovered through this open and transparent process that sometimes it’s easier said than done to make a major change in the calendar because of the ripple effect.”

Perhaps more important, though, were the discussions spurred outside the calendar debate.

“I think some great questions were raised about how to best educate our kids and about how to be sure all kids are as successful as they can be,” Maloy said. “And these are points we will continue to address outside of the calendar conversation.”