Much to consider on school calendar | AspenTimes.com

Much to consider on school calendar

Dear Editor:

The idea of shorter summer breaks during the school year to allow greater retention of the material from the previous year is a valid and common sense idea. For our children to remain competitive in a global economy, U.S. school systems must adapt to changing times.

The very notion that U.S. children need to have time off to assist with farm work and the harvest is from a time gone by. However, some working ranches within the school district have children that may become affected by this scheduling. This is most likely not a factor within the district, but an argument that may be posed.

Is this school calendar based on the Christian calendar? What about other religious calendars?

I’m guessing the main summer break would most likely be during the month of July and the first couple of weeks in August. If this is the time frame proposed, the nine- or 10-week looping proposal would not factor in Thanksgiving or the Christmas seasonal breaks in a uniform manner.

Should a version of the proposed schedule become adopted, I would strongly advise discontinuing the half days on Wednesdays, which are troublesome for many parents. If half days must be a factor it makes more sense to have those days correlate with sports and extracurricular activities. The service days for teachers should be eliminated from the schedule as well. The school week should be Monday through Friday full days, except for holidays. A very clear nine or 10 weeks on – two weeks off, five days a week except holidays, and a six- or seven-week summer break. Time to get clarity and ease of schedule in place.

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Would the short breaks be assignment-free or would there be assignments due? Would a policy on assignments be universal or left to the individual teachers to decide? Would standardize testing be part of the transition, and would this testing provide actual factual results to show strengths and faults of progressive scheduling?

Many parents, especially those in the service industry, work seasonally or juggle two jobs. This may have an undue burden because of the constant schedule changes. The school district has not responded well to requests from parents in this category in the past. What about the needs of the single parent?

What of the cost for additional clothing needed for the children with an extended school year? I know it’s expensive to provide “school clothes.” The status quo summer with classes not in session means a much more relaxed dress code for most children; that would not work for “in class” appropriate clothing. Would the district consider summer and winter school uniforms as a cost-cutting measure?

Operationally a cost analysis would show it is prudent to operate a school campus like Aspen year-round. The operating capital involving fixed costs, variable cost, heating and cooling of the buildings, preparing meals, providing transportation year-round, providing wages/benefits to employees, etc., is most likely lower in a year-round scenario; the flip-side – limits to the recreational and other taxpayer use of these facilities, such as the summer music program and theater programs – becomes even more complicated. Other factors include parking, wear and tear on buildings, and real property with a shorter timetable for construction and/or repairs to buildings, grounds maintenance, vehicles and equipment.

How does a progressive schedule affect the staffing for all of the Aspen School District’s departments? Where is a cost analysis? Does this change insurance coverage? How does this affect school resource officers? Sports scheduling? Standardized testing? Working budgets? Graduation, etc.

Please proceed with caution and forethought. I agree with the overall concept but consider the many variables and budgetary limits. Most of all, let us not just mandate change without the voices and suggestions of the people most affected by this decision, the fine students of the Aspen School District.

I urge the Aspen School District board to take careful consideration of the opinions of all involved.

Charlie Vresilovic

Pitkin Iron