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Elementary school students to get two days off in October

Parents of students attending the Pagosa Springs Elementary School (PSES) need to be aware that two staff professional development days have been added to the school calendar and students will have those days off in October — Tuesday, Oct. 19, and Wednesday, Oct. 20.

Addressing the Archuleta School District 50 Joint’s board of directors at Tuesday night’s meeting, PSES Principal Kate Lister stated that teachers would be instructed in new techniques for teaching the school’s existing mathematics curriculum and those days would be needed to accommodate the schedule for trainers of that curriculum.

“It’s just too bad these days have to fall in the middle of the week,” said director Joanne Irons.

“I know,” replied Lister, “We tried to make it a Monday and Tuesday or Thursday and Friday, but these were the only days we could get them (the instructors) and we need to get our teachers in the workshop.”

Lister added that flyers would go home with students regarding the two additional days off along with using the district’s “Connect Ed” automatic phone system for informing parents.

When asked if substitute teachers could be used instead of giving students two days off, Lister replied that it was her experience that using substitute teachers was not an effective way to make the most of student’s instructional time. Lister added that, since PSES had scheduled more instructional hours than are required by the Colorado Department of Education, the school remained in good standing even with the two additional days off for students.

In other scheduling news, District Superintendent Mark DeVoti announced that if enrollment numbers had increased — as initial counts suggested — then two furlough days for staff, scheduled as a result of budget cuts, would be cancelled if the district’s head count was indeed up for the 2010-2011 school year.

“I have some preliminary numbers,” he said, “and I mean preliminary; but it looks as though the district could be up by as many as 25 students so far this year.”

In fact, the slight increase in enrollment, the first increase in several years, would not only give teachers two additional days of wages, but would increase funding overall for the district.

As the official head-count for the district is not due until Oct. 1, the board was unable to equivocally state if the furlough days would in fact be cancelled. However, a resolution was passed by the board, cancelling the furlough days contingent on the Oct. 1 population count.

Parents with students in PSES should look for an announcement on the Oct. 19 and 20 days off, while staff district wide will certainly be waiting for the Oct. 1 head count announcement.

jim@pagosasun.com