RE1J School board approves academic calendar in close vote

Still a push for a unified calendar

In a rare 3-2 vote, the Gunnison Re1J Board of Education approved the calendar for the 2010-11 school year, despite some calls to postpone the vote until a closer look could be given to a few remaining details.



The calendar that was approved for Crested Butte Community School will mirror the calendar for the current year, while Gunnison schools will see some minor adjustments.
Every year the school district takes an extended and intensive look into the employment schedules of the ski and recreation industries, Western State College and other stakeholders and then tries to adjust each school’s break schedule to match.
The result is a different calendar for the Crested Butte Community School and the Gunnison schools, and that doesn’t sit well with everyone on the school board.
School Board President Anne Hausler said she understood both the need for a unified calendar, “genuinely believing we can provide better services down the road,” and flexibility in the timing of school breaks to accommodate different needs at either end of the valley.
“Being able to offer the breadth [of educational opportunities] that this community requires is very challenging and I still say a unified calendar might make that easier… and I hope we can achieve that,” Hausler said. “I think we’re in a good place as long as these conversations keep taking place and the stakeholder insights are added in.”
Board member Bill Powell had confidence in the consideration the calendar committee had given to the process and urged the board to accept the calendar as it was, so people could use the information to plan their family vacations.
He told the board about a recent Site Accreditation and Accountability Committee meeting at Gunnison Community School that was well attended by representatives from Western State College who made their priorities clear.
“At the meeting the other night,” Powell said, “it wasn’t like holding a gun to our head, but it was clear if we were to get accurate information out quickly to the people, some of the folks that are going to go on vacation at WSC can figure that in. But if they’ve already made up their mind, family time trumps school calendar time and CSAP time. That’s disappointing, but some parents said they would not allow their child to make up the CSAP time.”
The CSAP tests are one of the major ways the state measures a school’s performance, so a child scoring nothing on a test counts against the entire school. Powell hoped that getting the calendar out sooner, rather than later, might avoid some of the unintended consequences.
Board member Lisa Starkebaum said she was often frustrated when the school’s scheduled breaks don’t coincide with federal holidays, when public employees have time off.
Lee Olesen, the school board’s representative from Crested Butte, said he was hearing some unease over the unsettled calendar from his constituents as well. “I’m getting comments from Crested Butte families and there’s some anxiety out there. I’d like to take the anxiety out of it—and the sooner the better.”

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