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Hayden may extend school year

Number of days students attend would not be affected

Danie Harrelson

— The difference of a few days could be a major source of contention in the coming weeks as the Hayden School District mulls the possibility of extending its calendar.

Hayden School Board members and administrators are seeking public comment on the possibility of adding a few more days to the 2002-2003 school calendar.

Hayden Superintendent Scott Mader stressed an extended school year would not affect the number of days students attend school but instead give teachers a few more opportunities for teacher in-service days.

“There are, inevitably, issues that come up during the year that we need as a district to address,” Mader said. “These extra days would allow us time to look at these things.”

He cautioned that no action had yet been taken on a different calendar and would not be taken until the district had a clear idea of what was in the best interest of all parties.

Mader, however, said he would like to have a calendar in place for next fall by January.

It’s important that the board receive some direction from the community before it meets for its monthly meeting next Wednesday, school board member Patty Bruchez said.

“It’s been met with some resistance in the past,” Bruchez said. “We want to know how people feel about it now.”

The last time the district ran on an extended calendar dates back to the mid-1980s, before it went to a modified four-day school week in 1987 to cut school operating costs to deal with a loss of revenue.

When the district returned to a five-day school week, it kept the shrunken calendar, which now traditionally begins after Labor Day and ends before Memorial Day.

“People decided they liked the shorter school year, with fewer days off for students,” Bruchez said.

An extended calendar would add three in-service days for veteran teachers and four days for new teachers, Hayden High School Principal Nick Schaeffer said.

New teachers currently attend the same amount of orientation days before the first day of school as veteran teachers, he said.

An extra day for new teachers would help them to better adjust to their new environment, Mader said.

Students currently attend school 168 days of the year, and Hayden teachers work 176 days.

Extra in-service days could stretch that schedule to 179 days for veteran teachers.

The challenge lies in informing the public that the district is interested in looking at different ways to address the need for more staff development days.

This does not mean the district is ready to move forward on any decision, Hayden Middle School Principal Colleen Poole said.


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