Parents, teachers weigh in on extended school calendar

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A quick adjustment period waits ahead for School District 51 students, who now must adapt to a five-day extended year in 2013/2014.

The new calendar, adopted by the school board Wednesday night, will cut summer break and add two weeks for fall and spring breaks.

Less time off in the summer has proven to be beneficial for charter school Caprock Academy.

"Most of the research shows that kids retain more if they limit their breaks to about 8 or 9 weeks," said Dan Sherrill, the facilities and business director for Caprock.

Like the five-day extended calendar, Caprock calendar gives students other breaks throughout the school year because of the shorter summer. Sherrill says that way, they don't get as fatigued.

But some teachers say a shorter summer could negatively impact some academic programs.

"There's a two week break the second and third week of October, and that's the height of our marching band season," said Issac Lavadie, the band director for Grand Junction High School.

For area high school bands, more breaks could impact important practices, and a shorter summer could mean starting marching band camp as early as June.

But Christian Community School parent Jennifer Schmalz experienced a switch to a five-day extended calendar two years ago.

"I see no harm in teaching kids and giving them more knowledge," said Schmalz.

She said the extra breaks were an adjustment, but they allowed for more family time during different parts of the year.

Though adapting was inconvenient at times, it was more about students, according to Schmalz, and ultimately, that's how the school board says that's how they decided.

"Ultimately a calendar is for the students, and not for the adults," said school board president Greg Mikolai.

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