The Seymour school calendar won’t change much for the next three years despite support from some to move toward a balanced or modified calendar.
A committee spent the past few months collecting input and weighing options on scheduling vacations and snow days to ensure students receive the state-mandated 180 days of instruction.
Some of the discussions have centered on switching to a calendar that would shorten summer vacation but allow for longer breaks throughout the school year.
Although the idea has its supporters, school board member Nancy Franke said she doesn’t think it’s in the best interest for Seymour students and their families.
She has served on the calendar committee for the past three years along with teachers from the elementary, middle and high schools, administrators, classified staff and parents.
Franke said the biggest complaint from parents is that they don’t like their kids starting the school year so early.
The first day of school for the 2015-16 school year will be Aug. 6, with the last day scheduled for May 24.
As a teacher at St. Peter’s Lutheran School in Columbus, Franke said, she has experienced both the positive and negative aspects of having a balanced calendar. Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. implemented such a calendar in 2012.
She said the balanced calendar, which provides two-week fall and spring breaks along with the customary two-week winter break, creates problems for working families that must find child care during those breaks.
She also said students who are struggling academically seem to be at an even greater disadvantage after a two-week break because of the longer interruption in instruction.
Changing the schedule could have a negative impact on students’ academic success, she said.
“Many students need structure, consistency and a focused framework to work within,” she said.
Seymour will continue to have a two-day fall break in October and a day off at the beginning of the month in time for the Seymour Oktoberfest. Spring break will remain one week in March.
“For every person who requested our corporation to consider switching to a balanced calendar, I had four times as many requests to stay with a traditional calendar schedule,” Franke said.
Another issue the committee tackled was snow days and how many should be built into the calendar.
Last year, the district used all its snow days quickly due to the extreme winter weather and had to resort to adding on an hour to the school day to make up missed time.
Franke said that particular winter was unusual and isn’t likely to repeat itself soon. But the committee had to take snow days into consideration.
“If you look at the calendar, not only do we have at least four snow days built in each year, but there is enough cushion built in at the end of the year between the last day of school and graduation in June. This should give us plenty of days to work with even during a semi-abnormal winter,” she said.
Snow makeup days for 2015-16 are scheduled for Jan. 18, Feb. 15, March 25 and 28. If days do not need to be made up, students will have those days off.
Other challenges the
committee had to contend with were students who attend the C-4 career and vocational program in Columbus, testing for ISTEP+, IREAD-3 and end-of-course assessments and having a balanced number of days in grading periods and semesters.
Trustees voted unanimously this week to approve the three-year calendar plan with the stipulation that the second and third years might change based on legislative directives, testing date changes from the Indiana Department of Education or some other unforeseen event.