Aspen Elementary is about to join the Alpine District's growing list of schools on extended-day schedules, but this time parents don't have much enthusiasm about it.

The school board heard a presentation at its meeting last week about the proposed change. The public will have a chance to comment at a meeting on March 28, and board members likely will vote on the change at their April business meeting.

There are 10 Alpine schools on extended-day schedules. District administrators want to make it 11, because they believe it's the best way to deal with rising enrollment without building new schools.

Luana Searle, Alpine's assistant superintendent over elementary education, said Aspen parents and administrators have been working on the plan for about a year.

"We don't propose these things to the board of education as routine," Searle said. "Each school is unique, and thus we feel it is important to take whatever time is necessary to review this plan. These decisions are not easily arrived at, and each school goes through a certain amount of trauma."

Parent representatives said the plan is satisfactory, but they would prefer not to change the school's schedule.

Aspen Public Involvement Council member Shelly Sawaya said parents had difficulty resolving their feelings when district officials told them to develop an alternate schedule to ease crowding in the school, but once they accepted it, the process was relatively smooth.

The extended-day schedule would divide each student's day into two parts, with 3 1/2 hours spent every day learning core subjects like math, English and social studies, and about two hours spent on specialty subjects such as art, music and science.

About half the student body would arrive at 8 a.m. and end the school day at 2 p.m. Other students, including all children who are bused, would begin the day at 9:30 a.m. and continue to 3:30 p.m. Students would attend school the same number of hours each day that they do now. Faculty members would teach either core subjects or specialty classes, rather than presenting as many as eight subjects daily. Students would always report to the same room for their core classes. They would rotate to rooms for specialty subjects.

Class sizes would remain between 29 and 33 students for core teachers, but specialty subjects would be taught with 40 or more students in each class.

Parents would be permitted to select which track to place their children on, provided they aren't bused, Aspen Principal Jim Gray said.

District officials say about 700 students attend Aspen and 20 more are expected next year. The school has a capacity of about 675.

"Aspen is full," Searle said. "We are at a point in north Orem when we just don't have any room for growth." Aspen is at 925 W. 20th North.


Longer day better than longer year

Of 265 Aspen Elementary School parents and faculty members who voted on which schedule to adopt, about 64 percent preferred extended day; the rest wanted an extended-year schedule.