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'UEA weekend' may move

School groups pushing for a change next year

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 2 2003 12:00 a.m. MST

"UEA weekend" is facing unwelcome competition from state football playoffs and a state volleyball tournament.

And the Utah High School Activities Association and the Utah School Superintendents Association want the state's largest teachers union to forfeit its Oct. 28-29, 2004, time slot and move its convention to any other October weekend.

Some school board members also are talking about designating a statewide fall break and the Utah Education Association would have to work its convention into that time period.

Union leaders have been talking with the UHSAA about its concerns, UEA President Pat Rusk said Monday. But it's uncertain who will prevail in this matchup.

"I don't know if moving it is an option," Rusk said of the 2004 convention. "A lot of it is out of our hands."

The conflict comes at a time when the union is examining whether to keep the professional development meet in its current form. The UEA's board will discuss the matter next month, Rusk said.

UEA weekend has been an early October, Thursday-Friday mainstay. Some parents have the time chiseled into child visitation decrees. Others plan fall vacations around it.

But the Salt Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau in recent years decided it couldn't hold the time slot. Teachers don't bring business with them, whereas other organizations do.

Problems have resulted. A few years ago, the union scheduled a November convention but changed it to a Monday and Tuesday in October when superintendents said they couldn't give more days off that month.

Now, the UHSAA is crying foul.

"For us to move (tournament and playoff dates) creates huge problems," UHSAA executive director Evan Excell told the Utah School Superintendents Association on Monday.

UHSAA policy bars practice or contests during UEA break, and the group fears going head-to-head with the convention would strike out with vacation-planning parents.

The UHSAA already has booked facilities for sporting tournaments. Students would miss too much school if tournaments don't include Saturdays. Bumping events would run into basketball season and the deer hunt.

Though some superintendents believed changing the convention would disrupt already-set calendars, their association voted to back the UHSAA and ask the UEA to switch convention dates.

The Utah School Boards Association could be next. UHSAA trustees who sit on the USBA's board of directors will pitch two things to their group: Work with the UEA on an acceptable date, or consider setting a standard fall recess.

"We're very sympathetic to the UEA's predicament," UHSAA trustee and Granite Board of Education member Lynn Davidson said. "The only concern is that we think the UEA ought to . . . accept an alternative site at the South Towne convention center so there is not a conflict and no problem with the Salt Palace."

Rusk says the South Towne Exposition Center doesn't have enough adjacent space for classes and exhibitors. But she wants to work with the concerned groups.

"We're going to work together to find whatever we can do that will be best for kids," she said. "At this point, I don't know what that will be."


E-MAIL: jtcook@desnews.com

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