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Please don’t call it year-round school

Vicki VanEngelenburg

The Garfield Re-2 School District is studying the possible implementation of a Student Achievement Calendar for the 2003-04 school year. Please note the district has no intention of adopting a year-round calendar. The district is looking to provide educational instruction in a more continuous learning way and offer vacations organized into smaller segments and spaced throughout the year. There would still be a long summer break, but not as long as in the past.

In a traditional school calendar, a child who has fallen behind in October was behind all year, with no place to stop the process to assess that child’s achievement. The Student Achievement Calendar is based on the needs of the students in the future.

School begins the first or second week in August, proceeds for approximately nine weeks, and then stops and assesses student progress. The district will take a one-week break in mid-October, and provide an additional week to provide voluntary extended learning opportunities and enrichment for students who need or want it.

School then resumes for nine weeks, with the next break at winter vacation. In addition to the normal two weeks of winter break, a third week is added to assess student achievement and provide learning opportunities and enrichment.

The calendar resumes in January for nine weeks until spring break, with an additional week for a third extended learning and enrichment opportunity before CSAP testing.

The fourth quarter resumes in March, and the year normally ends the first week of June. Expanded learning opportunities would be offered during early June, or before the next school year begins in August, depending on the needs of individual schools.

The Student Achievement Calendar is very different from a year-round school calendar.

Students and families have more opportunities to vacation at different times throughout the year, and there are still seven to eight weeks of summer vacation. The Student Achievement Calendar is designed to focus on students by providing them with assistance more often and at critical times in the year. Rewarding enrichment opportunities are offered that cannot be provided with the current calendar.

The School Board has directed the school district Coordinating Council to examine all aspects of the Student Achievement Calendar and make a recommendation by February 2003. There will be opportunities for input by students, parents, staff, and community. If these groups see the benefits of altering the calendar to focus on achievement of all students, the School Board will take that as a positive sign to move forward.

However, two important comments need to be stressed.

Garfield Re-2 is not considering moving to a year-round school calendar.

The school board has not approved any major changes to the calendar, and would not until extensive study, review, and comment is considered.

I encourage all members of the Garfield Re-2 School District community to become informed and participate in this important decision. It is all about time and how it can be best used to impact students’ learning opportunities. The Garfield Re-2 School district is focused on student achievement as our No. 1 priority, and we are compelled to examine every possibility to enhance student success.

Vicki VanEngelenburg of New Castle is president of the Garfield Re-2 School Board.


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