Parents voice concerns at D51 community meeting

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) -- The District 51 School Board opened up for community comment Tuesday night.

The Grand Junction High School library was full of parents who wanted answers. Topics like class size, bus routes and academic achievement were all discussed, but the new five-day extended calendar seemed to be the root of all concern.

Superintendent Steve Schultz opened himself up for questions from a room of about 25 worried parents. Community meetings like this one are held each quarter in an effort to give parents the opportunity to voice their questions direction to School Board officials.

Some parents say because of prior plans, there is no way their kids can start school on Aug. 12 and worry that missing the first couple of days could negatively effect them. Others want to know how the two week breaks in the fall and spring will help, and how additional learning will be offered.

Concerned parent Deborah Atchley said she wishes she could have had more input on the change.

"How many parents have a job where they can take six weeks vacation?" said Atchley. "I know they talk about advancement, you still have to get them there, and what about the teachers who are going to teach that? Is it voluntary; is it mandatory? I know they talked about it's always available if you want to come you can come, but that's not how the real world works."

Schultz said the district has applied for eight grants, ranging in contribution from $50,000 to $8 million to help pay for the intended intervention and enhancement opportunities during the year.

School board members want to remind the community that the calendar was not adopted in an attempt to save money. It is an effort to improve the graduation rate, improve learning K-12 and better prepare students for life after school.

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