Balanced Calendar
MetroNews staff photo

Cabell County is moving forward with plans for a possible balanced calendar to begin the 2014-2015 school year.

Cabell County Schools spokesman Jedd Flowers said the county is going to start a conversation with the community regarding school all year-round.

“We’re going to go out and have some community meetings, discuss what we are looking at and get all their input, concerns, questions and try to address those,” said Flowers.

For about a year now, school leaders have been contemplating the idea for a balanced calendar partly because the county has such a high poverty rate with 57 percent of students living at or below poverty.

Flowers said a balanced calendar would be very beneficial to these students.

“It helps them fill the gap or reduce the summer learning loss that occurs during the summer months,” said Flowers.

A balanced calendar does not necessarily mean school year-round because it’s the same amount of contract days, just spread out more evenly throughout the year.

“Typically there is a four to six week summer break and then there are intersessions after every nine weeks, two to three weeks each one,” said Flowers.

There would be a total of three intersessions and one summer break in the year.

Flowers adds that a further benefit to the calendar would be that each intersession could provide more opportunities for learning.

“There are a lot of opportunities where maybe churches could do special programs or the YMCA, the Art Museum, all those different things could enrich students during those intersession times as well,” said Flowers.

Flowers adds that the intersessions could also be an opportunity for kids who are struggling or falling behind to take an extra course to help them catch up.

Over the next several months the Cabell County Board of Education plans to hold numerous public meetings at county schools to better inform the public about the calendar and also get feedback from parents and staff.

Flowers said a three month summer break might not be the best option for kids and that’s what this is all about, what’s best for the kids.

If everything goes well with the public meetings, the board could take a vote towards the end of the school year on whether or not to proceed.

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Comments

  • Georgina

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  • Aaron

    Maybe when some of you without our children will someday see the time for more familly time when you have kids. I will be honest my son does not love schoolwork but with a little pushing he does it and does good. Besides all this kids also need time too just go in the woods and play. Play in the yard. Etc...

  • Aaron

    I would like to say that I have spent hours for a couple days looking over the internet trying to find proof that year round schooling actually improved learning and I found one example. In that school systym they actually increased the number if school days too over 200the days. For the person who says we are only concerned about our family time and vacations I will admit I am. First of all I am a truckdriver. I like my job. I am a blue collar worker, make decent money and I am proud of what I do. My son rode with me for 1the month out of last summer. He went to 27 states he had never been in. We went on a boat in a Rocky mountain lake. Went on a sailboat for the first time. He also went in the St louis Arch. We even went to the Oregon Museum of Natural history in Eugene Oregon. That was something my son wanted to do so we did it. We had to spend the weekend of memorial day in Eugene Oregon in a motel so I made it fun. This trip is something I will never forget! It was also educational for me. He also learned how to do his dads job. We also went camping and swimming like we do every summer close too home. We live an active lifestyle. Then the last two weeks before school started me and my wife took my son on a cruise ship to the Bahamas. It was a trip we saved up for for years with money I got from working my butt off. My son saw 27 new states and a foriegn country last year. If that is not educational I do not know what is. Oh and I forgot I also had a load to Jerseys City New Jersey where we went to the Staue if liberty and Ellis Island Museum one morning. My point is that with a year round calender most of this would be impossible. Maybe when some if you who dont havehave who dont have kids

  • susanf

    And I would like to know just how well this "balanced" school calendar would work in the northern part of WV where students sometimes miss up to a week due to snow and bad weather. Would that time then be tacked onto the end of the school year, so sorry, kiddos, there goes your abbreviated summer break!! Bad idea all the way around! I hope the parents of Cabell Co. stand up against this tyranny!! Because if they don't, it WILL happen and there will be no going back!! Time for civil disobedience!! Parents should either ignore the school system if they change the calendar and either home school or look into enrolling their children in private schools which aren't stupid enough to go along w/this scheme. And I'll bet you dollars to donuts that there will be higher absenteeism w/this year round calendar! I certainly wouldn't send my child to school in the summer!!

  • TC

    3 months off???? It is obvious that the school system failed you.

    • Jim

      You must have been referring to my post about students and teachers having 3 months off every summer. Well, until recently, they did have. The school year typically ended around the first week of June and began around Labor Day or the first of September. Now, my child is out of school by the middle of June and went back around August 18 this school year. Still about 2 months.

  • mntnman

    Its a idea whose time may have come. Certainly discussing it cannot hurt and it will benefit everyone to get the details. Then, a reasonable, rationale decision can be made. I do know this -- most places where the balanced schedule is in place -- after a short time -- the majority come to really like it.

    • susanf

      "Sheeple" you mean! Some people will just go along w/whatever. I still contend - let's see some hard evidence that this system will work any better than the traditional calendar; don't think it will b/c the underlying problems/causes of students doing poorly in school aren't being addressed.

  • Jim

    Thank you Susan and Robert for your input. It is purely my opinion that this proposed system will work if given ample opportunity for the students, parents, teachers, and community to adjust. I do think it is what is best for my child. Did not mean to upset you Susan. Just my opinion.

  • David

    Do you know why schools have summers off? It was so the children could work the farms with their family.

    The summer off concept is out-dated.

    Good luck getting this past the teacher union. As many teachers will tell you, they ONLY became a teacher so they can have summers off. And you think they'll give that up for the benefit of the children?

    BAAAWWWWHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

    • susanf

      David, by your logic then students should have only been in school from maybe November thru February, if the only reason is so that kids could work on the farm. If you lived on a farm, you would know that spring is planting time, summer is growing and tending time, and fall is harvest time.

  • Robert

    I'm not trying to be rude on this, but it does sound as if your main interests are how it will effect your vacation. I am currently in grad school and would love this type of schedule, and have had this conversation with many classmates in high school and college that agree. As for the catch up weeks, isn't the point of this schedule to have less to catch up on? And as for the weather days, i don't know the plans of how this would be handled. If u needed to yank your kids out for vacation im sure the system could comply.

    • susanf

      Oh, and Robert, as for the catch up, with the so-called balanced approach, the teachers will have to spend a week after each break reviewing and catching up - so that would be after summer break, and after each of the other shorter breaks, so in essence, they would be doing as much review and catch up as they would be at the beginning of the school year on the traditional calendar!

    • susanf

      I don't think you are being rude, Robert, but you are misinformed - I don't have a problem w/scheduling vacations, but I think it could present a major problem for lots of people, for example, people who work in a healthcare setting or in a factory, etc. where they can't just shut down b/c everyone would want to take their vacations during that 1 mo. period of summer break. Not to mention what it would do to summer camps, sports, etc. I think it is the height of arrogance for the school administration and other supporters of the year round school idea to expect everyone else to "adjust" to this schedule just b/c they "think" it might be a good idea!

  • susanf

    I don't know specifically how it increased expenses, but the AP article that I read mentioned that as a reason why the year round schedule was dropped. I would guess possibly in heating/cooling costs? Schools would have to be cooled during the summer months when in session, perhaps? The article also went on to say that in states who have kept the traditional school calendar, including Massachusetts and Minnesota, the all-important standardized test scores are consistently well above the national average; hmm, so much for the argument that year round school increases learning!

    • TiredInTucker

      Just a thought. Schools in Massachusetts and Minnesota with the high test scores are highly unionized. Just a thought for all the union haters.

    • scott strode

      susan, test scores do not align with school calendars they align with the quality of education.

      • susanf

        That's exactly my point!! Just b/c some people want to "change" things doesn't mean it will have a better or different outcome!! Until and unless there are strong, conclusive studies to support the "benefits" of year round school or a "balanced" calendar or whatever you want to call it, I am saying there is no need to change!! And Massachusetts and Minnesota are good examples of how the traditional school calendar can and does work - as you say, it has to do w/the quality of the education, not how the school calendar is configured.

    • Robert

      Ill try Google the article. id like to see how long the attempted systems were implemented. but just bc mass and Minnesota performed better doesn't mean the balanced schedule is inferior. For example, consider if WV national average is in the 40th percentile and Mass is in the 60th. After using the balanced schedule, wv improves to the 50th percentile (hypothetically). Mass would still be a higher percentile, though wv improved (hypothetically). Like i said, i need to look at the article, but beware of how information is presented as authors often have bias.

      • Robert

        I tried to read up a bit on the "studies". I am having trouble finding any evidence of objectivity in anything I read. If you have information please share. I'm pretty interested. As for the subjective claims, I am copy and pasting from an article a University of Ottawa site. It is a little over 6 years old, but like I said these are purely subjective claims.

        "In the United States, the balanced school calendar concept was in use in the first decade of the 20th century and returned to popularity only in the 1970s. Today, the formula can be found in private, public and charter schools in 47 states, including California, Arizona, Hawaii, Kentucky and Nevada. In Canada, the first experiments of this kind date from the 1990s. The balanced calendar is currently in use in four schools in Alberta, 35 in British Columbia, and nine in Ontario. Riverside-Sud is the first Canadian French–language school to give it a try.

        The main advantages of the balanced calendar — according to the latest studies — are a stronger sense of belonging, which leads to better behaviour, and the fact that less knowledge is lost during the summer months. Teachers spend less time on reviewing material and disciplining students. For students and teachers alike, there is reportedly less stress and fatigue as well as lower absenteeism."

        "However, the balanced school calendar has as many detractors as it has supporters. Several U.S. schools that have tried this approach have, for a variety of reasons, returned to the traditional calendar. This was also the case for two Saskatchewan schools. According to Jim Carriere, board chairman of one of the Saskatchewan schools, the main reason for the switch back was “a lack of synchronization with the province and community as a whole for family, recreational and business reasons.” Nevertheless, in the U.S. the demand for the balanced school calendar has more than doubled in the past 15 years."

  • Robert

    I have always been in favor of this type of schooling. I think kids will be refreshed after each small break. I hadn't considered how it might increase expenses, as Susanf posted. If that is true, could someone please enlighten me as to why that is?

  • Paige Allen

    Jim,
    I have to agree with you. It doesn't make sense for parents to not like the change- although I have heard many people repeating misinformed ideas. I have heard parents who really don't understand the whole idea say things like: there won't be any summer vacation, the kids won't be able to play....
    But in reality it's difficult for many people to find childcare over the summer and the extended breaks are not necessary.
    I think that if the school board did a survey of the most successful students they would see that those students are continuing their education throughout the whole school year and not just during the "official" school year. This logic would lend itself to the balanced calendar.

  • Tom

    I don't know if it will be beneficial or not. However this and many other options need to be discussed, explored or implemented. Our education system needs an overhaul. It's time to look at changes. The status quo isn't getting it done anymore. The United States already lags behind in instructional days around the world. As for parents not liking it, what's the main issue? It's the same number of days spread in a different manner. I'm a teacher and I'm certainly for exploring the idea. I think students and teachers may benefit from highly focused quarters with breaks in between to recharge. National testing may be an issue but that's another area that needs addresed.

  • Jim

    Great idea! The children lose much of their learning over the long Summer break and teachers spend much of their time catching them up at the beginning of the year. Also, the intersession breaks can be scheduled at the times of year when weather is poor and many school days are lost due to cancellations. My oldest daughter lives in rural NY and her school system does very well with this type of system. Love the idea and it is worth the try.

    • Jim

      One more thing...parents and teachers will adapt to the change. It is what is BEST for the children.

  • susanf

    What a crock!! I just read an article about year round school and in other states which have tried this misadventure, they have gone back to the traditional school calendar b/c the year round approach increased expenses and was largely unpopular w/parents. Not to mention that NO studies conclusively support the idea that it improves learning, except for possibly the low achieving students. And why should students who aren't in poverty or low achieving be forced into this!

    • Jim

      You must be a teacher. I think that most teachers will not like the plan because they will not have three months off every year. Teachers need to suck it up and do what is best for the children. I am speaking from experience...both as a teacher and a parent of a first grade student.

      • David

        Jim,
        My wife is a teacher, and I have yet to see her have 3 months off of work! And if you don't have to work during the summer months, then you might not be a very good teacher!