Year round education under serious review by local school districts

October 8th, 2021 by Ken

School districts around the state, including Olympia, Yelm, Tumwater and North Thurston, are looking at a new educational concept called “Balanced Calendar.”    It’s the newest name for Year Round Schools, but educator are quick to point out that its different.

Under the Balanced Calendar, students would go to school for 45 days followed by 10-15 days off.  There would be four periods of 45 days during the year, bringing the total educational year to 180 days.  There would be an extended vacation period during the summer break.  But, there would be no additional classroom days.

Currently North Thurston Public School has created a 50 member advisory committee to look at the concept.  It’s chaired by North Thurston assistant superintendents  Monty Sabin and Vicky Lamoreaux .  Members of the committee include teachers, education staff, parents, students and community members.  The committee has met once and has a meeting scheduled later this month.

The idea for the study rests with the Superintendent of Public Instruction’s office which is rolling out the concept on a statewide basis.  SPI has awarded $75,000 grants to school districts to undertake the study.

The tentative date for completion of the study is May of 2022.  At that time, school districts around the state will jointly present their ideas and possible support for a Balanced Calendar school year.

(Editorial comment)  The idea of year round schools has been a bugaboo for educators.  As we continue to turn from a rural to an urban country, the idea of taking the summer off to help with the harvest has long since run its course.  Now many private schools have adopted a year-round approach.  Under a Balanced Calendar concept students wouldn’t spend more time in the classroom, so it really isn’t more time in classroom learning.  It spreads the current school year over the whole calendar.  I suspect that the Pandemic had an impact on moving this idea along.  Remote learning has proven to be a useful idea.  It’s impact on student learning is still being assessed however.   One problem I see is finding day care and child care at four different times of the year.  This is one problem that needs considerable discussion and understanding.  I’m also a little concerned that the school district is not allowing outside citizen input into the process but is waiting until it has a product to put before the community.

Posted in Government, Informational, Local Politics, The Real News

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