Archive for Wednesday, January 9, 2002

Baldwin district to consider year-round school

Students, parents could see change in school calendar

January 9, 2002

Up until now, the concept of year-round school in Baldwin City has only been in the nightmares of students.

But the idea of year-round school is actually becoming more of a reality for the school district.

The concept is not to make life harder or more complicated for the students, Baldwin Supt. James White said, but to help improve academics in the school district.

"Right now the idea seems pretty radical," White said. "It's very difficult to make the change initially. But it would help our students grow academically."

He said preliminary discussions about implementing the new system would begin in the next couple of months at one of the upcoming school board meetings.

White said he has spent a lot of time researching the idea and how the change would affect Baldwin students.

"It's difficult for youngsters to spend 10 to 12 weeks away from studies, especially if they are already struggling in class," he said. "Reducing the time they have away from academic pursuits would be very beneficial."

If the district went to year-round school, several two to three-week breaks would be implemented throughout the year instead of the longer, traditional summer break. White said it wouldn't increase the number of days students attend school, but would disperse vacation days more throughout the 180 school days.

"It would reduce the learning loss that we currently see in a child away from school for a two and a half to three-month period," he said.

He said the traditional calendar year, which the school currently follows, stemmed from the days when communities, like Baldwin, were more agricultural.

"Many farm families required youngsters to be at home during the summer months to help farm," he said. "But that's no longer the case. Baldwin has evolved from an agrarian society to one that's different. With that, we have to take a closer look at how we structure the school year."

Besides shortening the time students are away from their academics, year-round school would also help keep teachers in the classrooms more than what they currently are, White said.

"Right now we have to hire substitutes when our teachers are gone for curriculum-type activities," he said. "But with year-round school, we would be able to do curriculum-type activities during the breaks and would actually be able to have the teachers in the classroom nearly every day. If we don't have them in the class, we feel the children lose."

White said he knows there will be some concerns with the new concept including summer athletics, summer jobs and extra cost to the district.

"Athletics I don't think will be an issue," he said. "Most of the games are played at night, so that shouldn't really be a factor."

But summer jobs could be affected, he said.

"Many kids work after-school jobs, so it would just be a continuation of the after-school routine," he said. "It would disrupt daytime jobs, though. But I think it would be outweighed by some of the other benefits."

The district could experience some extra minor costs with inservices and curriculum work during breaks, but White said there shouldn't be much more increase that that.

"I think utilities, as far as heating and air conditioning, would balance out in the long run," he said. "When you put the pencil to the final figures, it wouldn't be that significant an increase in cost."

Although White said he wasn't sure if any other Kansas school districts had the year-round system, other districts in other states have tried the system and found it to be successful.

"It has been very positive," he said. "It's been very difficult for them to make the initial change, but the parents really liked it once they got used to it."

He said the system could be successful in Baldwin as well.

"We're just going to try to provide more and more information about it to the parents," he said. "If the parents accepted it and tried it, they would really like it."

Commenting has been disabled for this item.