D51 calendar adoption vote Feb. 5

District 51 School Board members are scheduled to adopt a calendar for the 2013-14 school year at their next meeting Feb. 5.

A calendar committee of district staff presented various calendar scenarios to the board in December. Four of the scenarios were presented to the public Jan. 10 at open houses attended by more than 200 people. An extended calendar with a nine-week summer and longer spring and fall breaks was the most popular of the four options, according to comment cards received at the open houses and a survey of teachers, District 51 Executive Director of Support Services Melissa Callahan DeVita said. The least popular option was a four-day week calendar with eight-and-a-half hour days for staff.

The two four-day week options presented at the open houses gained little traction with board members at a board meeting Tuesday night.

Instead, board member Harry Butler moved to adopt the extended calendar option, which would begin school 
Aug. 5 and end the year May 22, 2014. Board Vice President Leslie Kiesler said she would prefer to wait a year to adopt an extended calendar and moved to adopt a calendar that would resemble the 2012-13 school calendar but start school a week earlier on Aug. 12, 2013 and end it a week earlier on May 16, 2014.

Kiesler said she has heard from several people that they would have a problem with starting school two weeks earlier than usual because they have already made plans for August. Kiesler’s idea failed to gather support from the rest of the board and Butler’s suggestion of an extended calendar died after fellow board member Jeff Leany said he would like more time to study academic changes in school systems that have adopted an extended calendar.

Board member Ann Tisue agreed more time to study the impacts of an extended year may be beneficial.

Tisue, Leany and Butler voted not to adopt the extended calendar on Tuesday, but that doesn’t mean that calendar scenario is off the table. The failed vote simply means the board will make a decision on the calendar next month.

Other topics at Tuesday’s meeting included an update on civics curriculum and standards in District 51.

Leany, who is interested in suggesting some additional books for the district’s civics classes, said he would like to see the Colorado Constitution used as a primary source document in classrooms.

District 51 Curriculum Specialist Teri LeFebre said the U.S. Constitution is used in class and civics is taught at some level in all grades but the Colorado Constitution is talked about rather than read verbatim when fourth-graders study state government.

Three people shared concerns about some of the other writings Leany is proposing, including Mesa County Public Trustee Mike Moran and Primary Care Partners Executive Director Mike Pramenko.

“I would not want Michael Moore or Glenn Beck in a forward for any book in District 51,” Pramenko said, referencing a forward written by Beck in one of Leany’s suggested books, “The 5,000 Year Leap.”


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