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Addition and subtraction

D-11 community snarls at more school-day minutes


Nearly all Colorado Springs school districts added minutes to their school days after December's blustery weather canceled and shortened classes. But only one of them, District 11, ruffled parents and community members in the process.

On Jan. 29, the D-11 administration added 30 minutes to the school day (15 minutes at the beginning, 15 more at the end) to ensure the district met state teaching-time requirements. But that change, announced less than a week earlier, came as news to the District Accountability and Advisory Committee, a group of elected officers that acts as a liaison between schools and parents.

According to DAAC Chair Patrick Carter, the district had ample opportunity to consult with his group before making the change. A D-11 representative came to a DAAC meeting before the announcement, telling Carter and others that adding minutes was an option, but not the only one.

"We were told there was nothing imminent," says Carter. "We went back and were telling our building-level people [the DAAC representatives for the individual schools] that there was no plan to make a change."

When the district added minutes anyway, Carter heard from disgruntled parents who felt they did not have enough time to adjust. Five weeks later, Carter still fields complaints.

"It was a bad experience because there are a lot of members on the DAAC that take that position seriously," he says. "They believe in having parental input."

Carter and other DAAC members plan to issue a "Rebuke of Omission of Parental and Community Input" to the school board at its upcoming meeting on March 14.

The reproach, a DAAC resolution adopted three weeks ago, enumerates what the group considers a careless approach to adding minutes, saying the administration "circumvented" the group and, thus, the parents.

Much of the conflict, says district spokeswoman Elaine Naleski, stems from differing definitions of a "calendar change."

If the district alters its calendar by adding or removing days, the change has to appear before the board and go through a 30-day public process. The DAAC viewed the additional minutes as a calendar change, but the administration did not.

"We felt that everything [the administration] did was appropriate," says Naleski. "We were trying, as we said on numerous occasions, to be proactive."

In the long run, the added minutes may be helpful to D-11. It gave students extra time to prepare for C-SAP testing, which will end in two weeks.

If the district does not use any more snow days, there is a possibility it might rescind the 30-minute add-on.

"That would be even worse," says Carter. "Most parents are probably wanting to stick it out for the rest of the year. I think it will have the same impact."

School's (still) in

Weather-related schedule changes in local districts

Colorado Springs District 11: 30 minutes added starting Jan. 29.

Academy District 20: 20 minutes added starting Jan. 29.

Harrison District 2: 30 minutes added to middle and elementary school days starting Feb. 12 and 13. Various amount added to high school days.

Fountain-Fort Carson District 8: 10 minutes added starting Feb. 1.

Falcon District 49: 15 minutes added to middle and high school days starting Jan. 16.

Widefield District 3: 15 minutes added to most schools starting Feb. 1.

Manitou District 14: No change.

Cheyenne Mountain District 12: No change.

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