School Calendar to Stop Summer Brain Drain?

Planning for DeKalb's 2013-14 "balanced" school calendar is underway.

A group of DeKalb County's teachers, principals, and parents met yesterday, Sept. 4, to develop multiple calendar options for the 2013-14 school year. 

Among the options under consideration is a “balanced calendar” which will reduce the summer break by two weeks and include an additional week of vacation each semester. 

Another possibility is a weekly “early release” to allow for additional professional development for teachers. 

The options this group ultimately agrees upon will be unveiled Sept. 17 and made available for public comment until Sept. 26. Superintendent will then make her recommendation to the DeKalb County School Board on Oct. 1. 

The Board will vote on a final calendar Oct. 8. 

“The process for creating a comprehensive school calendar requires high levels of flexibility and thoughtfulness,” said Sequoyah Middle Principal Brittany Cunningham. “While scheduling 180 days of instruction, we must also build in nine teacher workdays, accommodate for holidays and adhere to state designated testing dates, and do so in a manner that best suits our students,
employees and greater community.”

Similar calendars have been used by other districts that reduce the amount of time students are away from the classroom and thus prevent “summer brain drain.”

How do you feel about some of these calendar options? Tell us in the comments below-

From a press release by the DeKalb County School District.

Charlton Allen September 05, 2012 at 12:57 PM
The balanced schedule does not have the effect that it is touted to have. The "brain drain" occurs in the first 2 weeks, if at all, as reflected in several studies. The reduction of summer time off from school hits older kid hard in that they cannot get summer jobs that could help earn money for post high school education. It hurts tourism economies because folks with kids have a much shorter time to plan vacations, and it puts a strain on businesses to squeeze vacation time for all employees into a shorter period of time.
KO Smith September 05, 2012 at 02:41 PM
Why is the DCSS even considering extending the school year when we are in a budget crisis? More school days would cost hundreds of thousands if not millions more to implement due to increased cost of running busses (gas, maintenance, etc.), electricity for all schools (lights, A/C, etc.), janitorial services, etc. Plus, working parents would be adversely affected trying to find childcare during the random vacation weeks during the school year. Finding childcare for the duration of the summer is much more feasible. Plus, most working families in DeKalb do not have the luxury of taking extended vacations throughout the year or even taking time off from work that often. Also, the school board needs to put some true thought into the idea of an early release day once a week. Surely there are some more practical and smarter ways to provide teacher development than to adversely affect parents and students alike. It would be difficult for working parents who work during the school day to leave one hour earlier one day a week, and teachers with children in school would have to go pick them up rather than benefit from development time. I can only imagine how many kids would be forgotten to be picked up throughout the year when parents are juggling work and multiple school schedules. Worst of all, those kids who are dropped off by bus to an empty home or apartment will be at home alone for an additional hour on those days.
Lorene Evans September 05, 2012 at 03:36 PM
As a retired teacher, I feel that more consistent weeks and months are much better than having breaks. It takes students time to settle back into a schedule after being out. Creating a habbit where students know what is expected helps to keep the learning going.  Families that have broken homes, divorced parents, etc. have a hard time with visitations when children spend time with the other parent or family member in the summer, especially those who live in other parts of the country or the world. Single parents or both parents working, have trouble finding child care for their younger children during short breaks. Children need the summer to grow in other ways other than school. Teachers need the summer time to attend classes to advance their education that is required of their job.  Months that have no breaks are the months that more progress is seen. Teachers want breaks too, but don't want to spend time getting students back on track.  Schools find many students will start the school year after Labor Day and leave the school year before Memorial Day due to family vacations etc. Some parents will take their children out of school when they want to take a trip or vacation.  Today, schools want an uninterrupted school day with time on task. The school year needs to be the same. 
A.J. September 06, 2012 at 04:19 AM
Then"balanced schedule" is a horrible idea not supported by facts, difficult on parents, bad for the economy, and most importantly disruptive for the children. It should be scrapped immediately.
Debbie Gathmann September 26, 2012 at 02:02 PM
The data collected in California and Colorado when they tried year round school showed that along with the added expense, it didn't increase scores at all. And it did increase absenteeism since parents had tended to plan vacations without considering the school breaks--and there was a drop in tourism at times that those states counted on tourist dollars. Not a win/win at all.


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