School district will not run year-round, officials say

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Three additional classroom instruction days will be added to the 2013-14 school calendar if a proposed change is adopted by Washington School Board later this month.


The district is not moving toward year-round school, the superintendent said, although the proposed school calendar is different from the current one. Eight instructional days have been added to the month of August in the proposed calendar, while no classroom days in August were held this current year. However, the 2012-13 year began after Labor Day because of construction. There was one classroom day in August in the district’s 2011-12 school year.


Administrators attempted to alleviate concern from a handful of parents and one teacher who spoke out at the board meeting Monday night.


“The intent of this calendar is to increase instructional time. It’s not as though we’re looking at having year-round school. We would be so far away from that,” said Dr. Roberta DiLorenzo, district superintendent.


A vote on the calendar is set for the board’s April 22 meeting. School board members did not comment on the calendar at the meeting.


Michelle Sperl, a parent, said she fears the calendar change is the first step toward year-round school.


“I believe my child deserves a summer break,” she said.


Teacher Jeff Bunner worries about the possibility that each year more days will be added until year-round schooling is in place. Bunner said a Google search revealed that hundreds of school districts have tried year-round school and later dropped it. The idea has been so poorly received that a dozen states adopted statewide school start times, Bunner said.


Others said they did not feel there was enough information or research undertaken to make such a change.


But DiLorenzo assured parents she is a proponent of summer breaks, especially for staff.


“Teaching is a high-energy, emotional career,” she said. “The staff needs that time to recuperate.”


The school calendar as proposed would lengthen time off for Thanksgiving, winter break and Easter. It would provide a summer break of 71 days compared to this year’s summer break of 70 days. The 2011-12 calendar included 86 days off for summer.


DiLorenzo said the calendar change to add classroom time has been discussed for more than a year. Some administrative time and meetings were given up in order to add more instructional days.


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