|2013-14 school calendar proposed|
|Written by Brenda Johnson Brandt|
Instructional hours are addressed in the first-draft proposed school calendar for Holyoke School District Re-1J for 2013-14. Details of the proposal were presented by Superintendent Bret Miles at the March 19 school board meeting.
The proposed calendar is 172 days, three fewer than the current year. However, Miles explained the total instructional hours will be up 19 hours at the JR/SR High and down only two hours at the elementary school with an adjustment to the start and ending times.
Currently, the elementary school day is from 8:25 a.m.-3:40 p.m. Proposed for 2013-14 is 8:20 a.m.-3:40 p.m. At the JR/SR High this year, classes run from 8:10 a.m.-3:35 p.m. Proposed for 2013-14 is a school day schedule from 8:05 a.m.-3:45 p.m.
The commitment to the Northeast Colorado Curriculum Collaborative drives many of the decisions for the calendar, Miles said. It impacts the start day, six inservice days throughout the year, the TCAP testing window for secondary and the spring break.
Adding the expectation of being out before Memorial Day means there’s not a great deal of flexibility in other places in the calendar. Miles pointed out this is especially true with such an early Memorial Day in 2014.
However, he noted the benefits of the collaborative seem to outweigh any inconvenience as all districts struggle to implement new standards.
Friday morning late starts also restrict the calendar. However, staff feedback indicates this time is valuable, so Miles is recommending that late start Fridays continue in 2013-14.
The proposed calendar adds the full week spring break and two-week Christmas break discussed by the board last year. It also increases professional time with the new initiatives without significantly reducing total instructional time.
Miles told the board at last week’s meeting that he is not recommending a reduction in teacher contract days, currently at 190. He said staff has said they value professional development time and prep time.
Due to the collaborative inservice days, they have already reduced two work days at the end of the first and third quarters. Inservice days before school starts have been reduced to six. Miles said six days is very minimal considering the number of initiatives they are implementing in addition to annual training.
Miles said they can certainly listen to suggestions, but he favors providing the days teachers need to feel comfortable with their work rather than focusing on a competitive salary in terms of a daily rate.
He emphasized that a daily rate calculation should include four years of bonuses totalling $4,500, which also makes the district more competitive.
The proposed calendar has students starting school Thursday, Aug. 15, with the last day for students being a half day Friday, May 23.
Miles said as the budget is developed, expanding the after-school services and the addition of a summer school will be top priorities.
Overall he believes this calendar seems to meet the goals in years past as well as the new goals with the collaborative.
The calendar will return to the April 9 board meeting for further review.
School finance re-write updated
Miles gave an update on SB 213, the school finance re-write. He noted the bill would dramatically change the factors in school finance, shifting money largely to students on free and reduced lunch and ELL students.
This bill is contingent upon a ballot initiative in November, approving over $930 million of new revenue for K-12 schools. It’s up next on the Senate floor, Miles said last week.
The Colorado Rural Schools Caucus and Colorado Association of School Executives have taken an amend position on the bill, hoping to see changes that could win support.
Parent-teacher conferences well attended
Spring parent-teacher conferences at both Holyoke Elementary and Holyoke JR/SR High were well attended, according to building principals.
Elementary Principal Kyle Stumpf reported a 99.4 percent conference completion. Translators were available each night of conferences which made a big difference. He noted teachers take it as a personal challenge to get 100 percent turnout.
JR/SR High Principal Susan Ortner said the turnout at spring conferences this year was the best it’s been for quite some time in the spring. Data showed 77 percent turnout of JH parents and 73 percent of HS parents.
The JR/SR High had the largest turnout of Hispanic families for a spring conference and had 138 extra walk-in conferences.
Translators assisted with a number of conferences. Ortner said she appreciated the number of parents who took time to complete the parent survey.
Surveys were completed for both buildings and will now go to the Standards of Excellence team for review. A report to the board will be given next month.
In other business March 19, the Re-1J board:
—acknowledged a number of gifts to the district. Fontanelle Hybrids will set up a new revolving fund for Holyoke FFA to help students get started with a livestock project and pay back the fund upon the sale of the animal.
Other gifts included flooring and construction materials for the weightroom from Jeremy and Brooke Dirks and Erik and Michelle Vieselmeyer, a cash donation to the HS football team from Stephen Balog of Dillon, a television for the weightroom from Pat Healy of Brighton, Prom royalty gifts from Fine Things Jewelry in Imperial, Neb. and a baseball bat from Jeremy Thompson.
—approved first reading of three policies: support staff vacations and holidays, part-time and substitute professional staff salaries and inter-district choice/open enrollment. There were no changes from discussion on initial introduction of the policy changes.
—heard a winter sport summary from athletic director Sandra Rahe, who noted schedules for 2013-14 are about 70 percent complete.
—held a 55-minute executive session at the end of the meeting for an informal superintendent evaluation conference.
Holyoke Enterprise March 28, 2013