News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

January 8, 2013

Schools in Clay eye ‘balanced calendar’

School board to discuss issue at meeting Thursday

TERRE HAUTE — The Clay Community Schools board on Thursday is expected to consider a “balanced calendar” for the 2013-14 school year.

A balanced calendar would mean a slightly shorter summer but longer breaks throughout the school year, particularly after the end of a grading period. There would still be 180 days of school.

According to the proposed calendar, students’ first school day would be Aug. 5, and their last day would be May 29, 2014. Schools would be off one week for fall break (coinciding with the Covered Bridge festival), two weeks at Christmas and two weeks for spring break.

The Clay board will have a special session at 6:45 p.m. Thursday to discuss the balanced calendar. Then, it will be asked to approve the balanced calendar during the regular meeting, which starts at 7:30 p.m.

The district conducted an online, publicized survey open to any stakeholder — including parents, students and teachers — and had an “overwhelming response,” said  superintendent Kim Tucker. The majority favor the move.

“It’s not much of a departure from our standard calendar,” she said. Starting a few days earlier in August allows for the longer fall, winter and spring breaks, Tucker said.

Several school districts in Indiana are either using a balanced calendar or discussing it, she said.

The survey had 2,073 respondents. One question asked those responding to agree or disagree with the following: “I would like a calendar that starts in early August, has a week for fall break, two weeks for Christmas, two weeks for spring break and ends before the end of May.”

According to survey results for that question, 74 percent of teachers/support staff said they agreed; 60 percent of parents agreed; 63 percent of community members agreed; 77 percent of students and 71 percent overall.

Tucker said she’s received some questions related to snow days, the State Fair and sporting events, and she expects some of those questions to come up again during the work session.

“We’ve invited local 4-H leaders to come Thursday if they have questions,” she said.

Information on the district website states, “Our school administrators will continue to work with parents of students who will be out of school for a special opportunity. We would encourage parents to inform school personnel early, so the children can get their assignments before being out.”

Snow days will be built into the calendar and could be added at the end of the year, if necessary.

The district also has contacted local preschool providers and the YMCA, Tucker said. “We feel we’ve had good conversations going on,” she said.

The calendar would enable the district to restore elementary parent-teacher conferences on the afternoon of Oct. 10 and the morning of Oct. 11, according to the calendar. If the calendar is approved, students would be off the afternoon of Oct. 10 and all day Oct. 11. There also would be some staff development activities.

 Fall break would be Oct. 14 through 18.

“We’re happy to have the opportunity to build some parent-teacher conferencing back in,” Tucker said. “We believe that was a real shortcoming in what the state Department of Education did with school schedules.”

According to the school district website,  some of the potential benefits of moving to a balanced calendar can include “better attendance, less academic fatigue, increased motivation and opportunity for remediation during the year.”

Tucker said the balanced calendar would give educators some extra days for lesson planning, and would also give students and staff more time to “rejuvenate” at the end of a grading period.

It still would provide plenty of time for kids’ summer activities, she said.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com

 

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