District 51 weighs calendar options

District 51 school board members will decide Feb. 15 whether next year’s calendar will include four-day school weeks, a year-round system, or look much like this year.

Board members listened to information about numerous 2011–12 calendar options during a workshop Tuesday night. Those options included:

A calendar much like this year’s and two alternate options with the same amount of school days but different days off.

Adding 10 minutes to each school day so the district could remove an estimated six days from the calendar but maintain instructional-time requirements. This option would save the district about $45,000 a day in utilities and transportation costs, according to District 51 Executive Director of Support Services Melissa Callahan DeVita.

Switching to four-day school weeks. This would offer annual savings on transportation ($841,600), substitute teachers ($315,000) and fuel ($132,000), and involve a 10 percent reduction in both custodial ($391,000) and clerical costs ($274,500).

Savings on utilities would vary by plan and amount to $127,750 a year if teachers stayed home on Fridays, $95,800 if teachers worked half days every other Friday, and $63,900 if teachers worked a half day every Friday.

Having year-round school with 45 days on and 10 or 15 days off in-between school sections or 60 days on and 20 days off. This option would cost more money rather than save money, Superintendent Steve Schultz said.

Implementing a multitrack system such as the one used in the early days of Fruita Monument High School and Chatfield Elementary, where three-quarters of all students attend the school during any given quarter while another 25 percent take a three-month break. Board members said there weren’t many fans of this system when they were used at those schools. Schultz said this option likely would not save money.

A committee that studied the four-day-per-week option found pros may include savings, fewer teacher and student absences, more options for students to work or find internships on Fridays, and a weekday to play sports or make appointments without missing school. Cons included: day care costs for parents; shorter lunch periods; sleep deprivation; and buses getting students home later because the school day would end as much as 40 minutes later, in addition to starting as much as 20 to 25 minutes earlier.

Tuesday’s meeting was informational only for the school board. It may select one of the above options or something different Feb. 15. The board is expected to discuss the options further during a retreat next week.


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