The board of Payson Unified School District voted to return all six schools to the one-week fall and spring break system it abandoned three years ago. The change affects the 2007-2008 school year.
Shorter breaks mean students get a longer summer break, which may or may not -- depending on who you ask -- affect retention levels.
The school board "carefully considered the often-conflicting input of a myriad of sources before selecting the one week break schedule," reads an Oct. 16 official statement released by the board.
According to the release, the board believes the schedule change will help students who participate in summer sports camps, band camps and other summer college courses to do so without missing the first few days of school. It will allow students a greater opportunity to commit to summer employment. It will give more time for clerical staff to prepare year-end reports (the fiscal year ends in July), order supplies, review rosters, prepare contracts and benefit packages, order textbooks and undergo training. And it will give additional time for maintenance staff to complete repairs when classrooms are unoccupied.
The one-week break calendar has been adopted for a single school year, so the board will have to revisit 2008 and beyond at a later meeting.
Early admission deadlines and financial aid applications are adversely affected by the timing of two-week breaks, according to the board's statement, but the one-week schedule will allow more time for counselors to work with students, in turn "precluding the need for last-minute schedule changes and the disruptions they cause."
Several weeks before the board voted, the school superintendent's advisory committee (SAC) independently polled all district employees -- teachers, aides, office staff, maintenance workers, cafeteria workers and bus drivers -- about the school breaks.
In the survey, 127 staff member voted in favor of two-week fall and spring breaks; 112 staff members voted in favor of two-week breaks, 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.
2007-2008 scheduleFirst day of school: Aug. 7, 2007Fall break: Oct. 8-12, 2007Christmas break: Dec. 24, 2007 to Jan. 4, 2008Spring break: March 10-14, 2008Last day of school: May 22, 2008
Superintendent Sue Myers gave the survey to the board to help with its decision.
"The thing I have been trying to remind people is that any of us, when we are making a decision, ask many people their opinions and then we choose from those," Myers said. "When we ask for an opinion and then don't take it, it does not mean that we don't respect the opinion."
Many parents were disappointed with the board's decision to change the school year schedule.
SAC member, teacher and parent Wayne Gorry saw the survey results as "a compelling reason to continue the schedule we have."
"I like the schedule the way it is, leave it alone," said parent Andy Kofile.
Parents were not formally surveyed by anyone as they had been before the district adopted the two-week break schedule before the 2001-2002 school year.
Gorry said, at the time, parents were supportive of the change, although he opposed it.
Now, he has seen the results, he said. Gorry believes students are performing better with the two-week break calendar, citing a districtwide improvement of AIMS test scores.
"The schedule change doesn't really bother me, but it will probably upset the kids," said parent Liz Bogard.
In its official statement, the board defended its decision, which was made after "evaluating all input as it relates to district needs and the learning process."
"I believe the board voted the way they did because they felt it was in the best interest of the whole district," Myers said.
Read the board's official statement:
Official statement of the Payson Unified School District Governing Board