School Board's Official Statement
October 16, 2006
Payson Unified School District Governing Board carefully considered the often-conflicting input of a myriad of sources before selecting the one-week break schedule for the 2007-2008 school year.
In 2002-2003 when the two-week break calendar was first instituted, the intent and understanding was that the two week breaks after each nine week session would allow schools the time to provide intersessions for remediation and enrichment. In the first years, classes were offered for both enrichment and remediation during intersessions: Japanese at the high school, reading and math improvement at the elementary schools. It was thought that the two-week break would also reduce absenteeism. Neither staff, nor student absenteeism was reduced. Staff absenteeism has become a serious concern.
Intersession classes were offered only at Julia Randall this fall.
In addition, maintenance of the facilities is difficult when there are only seven weeks without children in the classrooms. A longer summer break will benefit maintenance staff by allowing them additional time, when classrooms are unoccupied, to complete scheduled maintenance and repairs.
More time will be available to clerical staff both at the sites and the business office to prepare year end reports, to order supplies and textbooks, to prepare and review rosters, to prepare and review contracts and benefit packages, to undergo training and to find and hire teachers and staff. More time to hire certified staff is critical given the increasing requirements and diminishing availability of qualified applicants.
Scheduling and planning for student classes will be more beneficial if more time is available for thoughtful and pro-active counseling. The one-week break schedule will allow more time for middle school and high school counselors to work with students, planning and reviewing scheduling. The additional time will preclude the need for last minute schedule changes with the consequent disruption of the registration process.
College applications for our seniors grind to a halt during two-week breaks. This is a particular hardship when early admission is considered, and for spring application deadlines. Both admission application and financial aid applications are adversely affected by the timing of two-week breaks.
Students wishing to participate in summer seminars, educational and sports camps, and summer college courses will be able to do so without missing the first days of school. Staff members will also more easily be able to do so without missing the first days of school. Staff members will also more easily be able to take additional hours with more time available in the summer.
Both students and staff will have a greater opportunity for summer employment with a longer summer vacation. They will be able to make a meaningful commitment to an employer for a job or training position.
Although the Board did not request it, the Superintendent's Advisory Committee (SAC) polled the district staff. 127 staff members voted in favor of a two-week break. 112 staff members voted in favor of the two-week break, but wanted to add another week to the summer by extending the last day of school one week beyond Memorial Day. 78 staff members voted to reduce the fall and spring break by one week and add those two weeks to the summer. SAC is a committee to advise the superintendent, not the board.
The governing board always receives input from teachers, classified staff, the administration, students and parents. Decisions are made after evaluating all input as it relates to district needs and the learning process. Ultimately, the board must make the decision that is best for the district as a whole, a district which is a composite of diverse financial, educational, and social needs.