Year-round education: The new school trend

The transition to year-round education (YRE) is a growing trend from states like California to local Marion County. Warren Township is one district that will transition all of its schools to a balanced school calendar this fall.

Warren Township Supt. Dena Cushenberry says many Marion County schools have already transitioned to a balanced school calendar.

"We have two weeks (of school break) in August and October, then we have two weeks (of school break) at Christmas time and in the spring. That first week (of summer), we do what we call our 'summer school' but it's intercession, so instead of waiting to catch kids up in the summer, we're able to do it (about) every nine weeks."

She continues, "And that's the beauty of it. Kids don't have to wait. You can give them real time remediation as they need it. Now, we're using that time for enrichment for STEM activities for some of our schools."

The intramurals and curriculum programs offered by year-round schools can also benefit parents, specifically low-income households. School activities can alleviate the high costs of summer enrichment programs.

Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) education professor Natasha Flowers told media outlets, "(It's beneficial) for those families who don't have resources to do lots of academic enriching during the summer."

However, YRE can also limit the duration of summer activities outside of school such as competitive sports camps that can lead to scholarships.

Cushenberry says with the balanced calendar schedule, teacher and student attendance has increased.

"It gives teachers and parents time to schedule appointments for themselves during the school year, so they don't have to wait until summer to get all of their shots or whatever (it may be). If a teacher needs to do something, they can do it, and parents can schedule time with their children during those breaks and they don't have to wait until summer."

She elaborates, "If they wanted to do an educational activity in Washington, D.C., they could do it during their fall break or if they wanted to take them to a museum somewhere, they have more extended time to do that along with something they're studying."

But for school districts, year-round schools have increased administrative costs. According to Hanover Research, transitional and operational costs such as staff development and increasing faculty yield a 3 percent increase in expenditures on average.

Cushenberry says she doesn't believe there are any cons of transitioning to a balanced calendar and that, "It's healthy for teachers. It's healthy for students. It just gives you those natural, really good breaks."

"...Now, we're using that time for enrichment for STEM activities for some of our schools."

Warren Township Supt. Dena Cushenberry

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