Courier staff writer
ALAMOSA — Parent input could help end a contentious 2013-2014 Alamosa School District calendar debate.
The Alamosa Parent Advocacy Group for Education (A-PAGE) is asking district parents to participate in an online calendar survey at www.alamosapage.blogspot.com. The group has posted the three proposed 2013-2014 district calendars, and wants to know how the long-term schedule will impact families. The poll will remain open until Monday, April 8 at 4 p.m. and the data will be presented to the Alamosa Board of Education (ABOE) during its regular meeting that evening.
“We feel it’s important that as many parents as possible be given the opportunity to cast their vote on the early release day as it directly impacts parents - especially working parents that have to arrange the pickup/child care of their children on those early release days,” wrote A-PAGE acting chair Coleen Astalos in an email on Wednesday. “We feel that providing the poll results to the ABOE so that the ABOE can consider parent input along with the teachers vote would allow the ABOE to make the best educated decision on which calendar option to select.”
The three proposed calendars are identical except for the weekly early release day. The first calendar proposes Wednesdays with a 1:15 p.m. elementary early release and a 1:25 p.m. secondary early release. The second calendar proposes Mondays with the same release times and the final calendar proposes Fridays with a 12:45 p.m. elementary early release and a 12:55 p.m. secondary release.
In February, a group of district parents brought their concerns to the ABOE over a 2013-2014 calendar up for approval that was sent back to the drawing board. The denied calendar had early release days set for Wednesday afternoons, sending elementary students home at 12:45 p.m. and secondary students home at 12:55 p.m.
According to rough data the parents presented, the early release days scheduled for teacher enrichment sessions called Professional Learning Communities (PLC) would reduce instructional hours. Elementary students would lose about 79 instructional hours and secondary students 88. This school year, district students are scheduled for 32 early release days on Mondays, which is an increase of 18 days from the 2011-2012 school year and, according to the data, a loss of about 37 instructional hours in the elementary and about 43 instructional hours for all secondary students.
The three proposed calendars would result in elementary students losing between approximately 56 and 66 instructional hours and secondary students losing between approximately 61 and 73 hours, according to A-PAGE data.
Parents were also upset the district does not have its spring break aligned with Adams State University (ASU), and the three calendars up for debate have not managed to make it match. As it stands, the 2013-2014 district spring break will be March 24 through March 28.
Three years ago, spring break shifted to late March to accommodate the TCAP state-testing window with hope of improving scores. This year, many Valley school districts have been able to align their spring break with one another, but have been unsuccessful coordinating with ASU, particularly because the university sets its schedule so far in advance.
A-PAGE is a citizen group formed in 2011 that aims to improve communication between school district officials and parents. Its mission is to partner with the Alamosa School District to ensure education excellence for children through adherence to board policies and procedures. The group’s intentions also include embracing the Alamosa School District core belief of “a partnership of staff, students, family and community” in efforts to assist with communication between the school district and parents.