Thursday September 26, 2013
Concern has been mounting for months among local parents over a proposed school calendar change that could re-frame the way the school year is divided.
Calendar 2.0 is the brainchild of the Champlain Valley Superintendents Association (CVSA). The shift would entail taking the 175 day school year that has become commonplace and switching it up to shave two weeks off of summer vacation and, instead, provide breaks throughout the year coined “intercessions.”
So, what’s driving the change? Superintendents point to regressive learning that can occur over the summer as a major consideration. While some students are afforded additional learning opportunities throughout the summer, others are not and often, these students return to class in the fall only to have to backtrack their learning. “Intercessions could provide support to students who are in need” said Superintendent David Young. He did note that he is mindful of not making students feel stigmatized as a result of having to attend an assistance program while his/her best friend does not, for example.
Young posed the question to the school board, “If I asked you to sit in a room and come up with a school calendar that had 175 days without outside knowledge, what you would come up with? It likely would not look like what we have now. We have the 175 day system, which is required by law and is largely based upon the agrarian calendar, but it has morphed from what it used to be” Young said. “Holidays and vacations are important, but we have been silent as leaders in asking the question: is there a better way?”
Young pointed out, during the September 11th Board meeting, that there are still a lot of unanswered questions regarding Calendar 2.0. “It’s important to note there is a concern and need to understand all the implications of such a wide reaching decision” Young said. He cited cost as one factor, especially when one considers the effects climate change could have on heating and cooling units. He also mentioned job and internship opportunities and said that it is unclear whether the calendar structure could help or hinder those possibilities for students.
Parents were in attendance and asked questions. What if some schools adopt the calendar and others do not? Who is making these decisions? (the superintendents) If the calendar isn’t adopted by the entire state, how will sports games be coordinated with opposing teams since there are strict rules about not missing practices? The answers to these and other questions remain unknown as the superintendents gather more information to help determine next steps.
One parent urged that the decision not be made “in a vacuum” and that academic learning isn’t the only thing that needs to be considered.
Every year, in January, a regional school calendar is adopted. That is when a decision on whether to implement Calendar 2.0 for the 2014-15 school year would need to be made.
Young encouraged people to attend the forums so that the Superintendents can gather as much feedback as possible. Community engagement sessions have been scheduled for early October.
SOURCE: Corey Burdick, Correspondent