The Payson Unified School (PUSD) Board passed the 2014-15 school calendar with four members voting yes and one voting no, at its meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 15.
The calendar will mimic the calendar passed last year, including one week off in October and a full week for Thanksgiving — the winter and spring breaks will remain the same.
However, board president Barbara Underwood voted against the calendar saying she wanted to return to the two weeks off in
October to have time for intersession or remediation classes.
“I would like to see us go back to intersession the fall and spring,” said Underwood. “I know it would be a financial thing and we are looking to cut costs, but I think it’s important.”
Intercessions are a time to help students who struggle with a subject. They require space, time, transportation and most importantly, funding — something the district lacks.
Underwood’s request sparked an animated discussion from Rim Country Middle School Principal Rob Varner and Payson High School Principal Brian Mabb, and spread to board members and Superintendent Ron Hitchcock.
“If you return intercessions, the desire of the staff to finish before Memorial Day will be out the window,” said Varner.
He and Mabb presented the calendar to the board after discussions with site leadership and staff.
Board member Jim Quinlan brought Hitchcock into the discussion asking his opinion on the intersession question.
Hitchcock said that unless the board had a plan on how to fund and staff an intersession, setting aside the time would not guarantee an intersession would happen.
Mabb told the board how his former district worked intersession programs.
“They did two things, they provided transportation for a zero hour period,” he said, “Then they transported those students to the school, then they ran a separate route for students on track. It is something we would have to balance (here).”
Board member Rory Huff said it was important to keep the calendar as it was this year for continuity and to help staff and parents to plan vacations.
“I’d like to make the call tonight,” he said.
The board complied, but before the vote, Underwood told the board she could not support the calendar Varner and Mabb suggested.
Most of the calendar mirrors the 2013-14 calendar. Some of the changes include pushing professional development days for teachers into January and April. This year, staff had completed professional development days by September.
Varner did caution that the calendar is scheduled very tightly, any snow days could cut into the district’s ability to end before Memorial Day.
“You are rolling dice on snow days,” he said, “There is one built there for backup, but it would affect getting out by Memorial Day.”
KEY CHANGES TO SCHOOL CALENDAR
• First day of school moved up to Wednesday, July 23.
• Additional day off for students in January (14) and April (29) for teacher training.
• One-week fall and Thanksgiving breaks and two-week spring and winter breaks remain the same.
• Last day of school before Memorial Day, pending snow days.
To see the district calendar please go to: https://v3.boardbook.org/Public/PublicItemDownload.aspx?ik=34423561