(Pavillion, WY) – It was a packed elementary school library at the Fremont County School District #6 board meeting Monday evening as close to 50 parents and community members were in attendance to voice their concerns about the changes to the 2022-23 academic calendar.
The changes, as compared to the current calendar, include a later start date – Aug. 23rd instead of Aug. 16th – and a later end date – June 15th (June 1st for seniors) instead of May 26th. School days are shorter under the new calendar, too, ending at 3:16 pm instead of 3:50 pm.
Nine parents were on the agenda to speak and each one was given a set time of 3 minutes to do so.
Communication between the school and parents was a primary concern. Several parents noted they never received the automated messages about surveys and meetings the school sent out leaving them out of the loop. Others who work out of town or work on shift schedules and were unable to attend due to only having 6-days notice.
It was also mentioned that ending the school year in June could pose a conflict for students who participate in the Wyoming High School Rodeo State Finals and those who participate in the Fremont County Spring Spectacular Jackpot Show. It was also noted there are students who spend summer vacation with a parent as part of a custody agreement, and ending later in June cuts into that time.
The later start date in August is meant to accommodate the students who attend the State Fair.
The shorter school days also pose a problem for parents; especially, those who work in Lander and Riverton and would need to leave work even earlier to pick-up their children.
Concerns were also raised that teachers may actually leave because of the new calendar.
After the nine parents were finished, FCSD #6 Board Chair Dawn Leonhardt weighed in.
“I want you all to understand that we have students in the school too. And we looked at the calendar not just from a board perspective, but also from a parent’s perspective. And each one of our experiences with our children as well, that we weighed in on. And while there are lots of us here tonight, there are a lot of parents that aren’t here tonight. And I don’t know if it’s because they feel like you do or if it’s because the calendar is fine. But there’s no way to know that because they’re not here. We are concerned, of course, about the academics of our students, and we lean really heavily on our educational staff because they know what our kids need…”
She continued by noting they would trust the admin team and educational staff and that they would be moving on with the agenda.
Numerous parents began to speak up stating their voices had not been heard and asking what was to be done about the calendar, which has been submitted to the Wyoming Department of Education (WDE).
Trustee Angela McCann made a motion to adjourn the meeting, which caused a commotion and prompted several parents to leave the room. Stepping back on that motion she made a different motion to just table the discussion, which failed the vote. This opened up the room for dialogue with the remaining parents and lasted for about 35 minutes.
McCann also came up with the idea to have a parent-board committee that could come together and build a working relationship.
During those 35 minutes of dialogue, more concerns were aired by both the parent and community member group and the board members.
The parents were then tasked with providing a list of 10 names to Superintendent Troy Zickefoose for the parent-board committee by today, April 14th since the WDE is slated to vote on the submitted calendar on April 21st. Calendars are due to the WDE by May 1st.
Since the meeting, another survey has gone out by the school requesting information and feedback. Click here to view the public post.