The Payson Unified School District board recanted its decision to shorten the fall break and start school a week later next year.
In its place, the board reinstated the original 2004-05 school year calendar proposed by the Superintendent's Advisory Council (SAC), a committee of 18 teachers and other PUSD staff members. The calendar SAC proposed and the board approved calls for school to begin July 29 with two-week fall, winter and spring breaks. Under the approved calendar, the last day of school will be May 30.
In explaining the reversal at the Dec. 8 regular board meeting, board president Viki Holmes said, "My mother told me time and again to choose my battles wisely. What we are talking about here is five days of vacation placed somewhere in the calendar. It somehow pales in comparison to the challenges that we face as a board in the coming months."
Holmes said the original decision to move the five days, made at the November board meeting, was an attempt to strike a compromise between those who preferred the traditional school calendar with an extended summer recess and those who wanted to leave the calendar as is. The district went to a modified calendar in 2001.
Holmes noted that the six selling points for converting to the modified calendar in the first place have, for the most part, not materialized. They include:
- Increased retention over a shorter summer break.
- The opportunity to provide remediation to students during the two-week breaks.
- Reduction in discipline problems.
- Reduction in absences.
- Reduction in substitute teachers.
- Additional vacation options.
"What we found is that there is no direct correlation between any of our successes or failures as a district and the modified calendar, with the exception of retention at the elementary level," Holmes said. "Additionally, the modified calendar has also created a hardship on the maintenance department in completing their tasks over the summer break."
PUSD Superintendent Herb Weissenfels applauded both the decision to change the recommended calendar and the decision to reinstate the calendar originally proposed by SAC.
"After the board had a special session and considered additional data and information, they brought it back and decided to go with it as recommended by SAC," he said. "I think the board made the right decision both times, frankly, given what they had and what they were looking for."
With the school board's decision to accept the 2004-05 calendar proposed by the Superintendent's Advisory Council, key dates are as follows:
July 29 -- First day of school for students
Oct. 4-15 -- Fall Break
Dec. 20-31 -- Winter Break
March 14-25 -- Spring Break
May 27 -- Last day of school
Weissenfels said four parents addressed the board, all requesting that the calendar proposed by SAC be accepted.