It’s been known in
the past as “year-round schooling,” a concept that has been debated for
decades now, in which school schedules are spread out more evenly throughout
In fact, it’s being
referred to more and more as “balanced” school scheduling where classes
would be in session for nine weeks for 45 school days, let out for three
weeks for 15 days off, and start the pattern again.
balanced schedules may be a touchy subject for some students who covet their
long summer vacations, but the payoff is they would get extra days or weeks
for fall and spring breaks.
It should be noted
however that traditional and balanced calendars have the same number of
school days --180 as required by law. They are structured differently and
have their own set of pros and cons.
A new school
calendar for the Duneland Schools may be a long way off, perhaps it will
never change, but just for kicks the school board introduced the topic for
its new discussion meeting series.
“We have very
little control over what’s on the outside such as the Indiana General
Assembly but we do have control from within to schedule the school year,”
said Board President Ralph Ayres.
Board members plan
to hold a series of these meetings to educate themselves, employees,
parents, students and the general public on subjects that could affect
Duneland from inside or outside the realm of public education, Ayres said.
The board intends to hold discussion meetings on a quarterly basis
throughout the year.
Duneland for 120
years or so has used the same calendar, letting out in early June and
starting in late August. This started so children could help their on their
As society began to
be less agricultural, some schools in the western part of the nation changed
their calendars and found that students were better able to retain what they
learned in classes.
gathered from the Department of Education, Duneland Assistant
Superintendents Jim Goetz and Monte Moffett described “Summer Learning
Loss,” where students lose about 1-2 months of knowledge picked up in the
classroom over their 60 day summer break.
Shortening that gap
would mean better retention and overall better student performance and fewer
disciplinary issues, they said. Students do not feel as stressed or “burned
out” with balanced calendars but there are potential drawbacks in how it
affects communities, Moffett said.
“If it were a
perfect system, everyone would be doing it,” Moffett said.
Other than the
traditional calendar, Goetz and Moffett discussed three other calendars.
Modified-Traditional: Students start the first week of August, have six days
off in October after nine weeks, a three-day break for Thanksgiving, the
first semester ends at winter break, two weeks off for winter break, spring
break is a week and a half long, semester ends before Memorial Day, students
have all of June and July off.
Modified-Balanced: School starts at the end of July, students have two weeks
off in the fall after nine weeks, first semester ends at winter break which
will be two weeks, students will have two weeks off for spring break after
nine weeks, the semester ends before Memorial Day, students have eight weeks
off for the summer.
- Balanced: Similar
to modified-balanced but students have only six weeks off for summer break
starting at end of May and the new year beginning in the middle of July.
Fall and spring breaks will be three weeks after 45 student days, winter
break will be two weeks long.
Goetz said that
snow make-up days can be moved around in any of the balanced calendars. The
extended weeks that the school is out, students can take remediation courses
and there would still be time made for athletics and student clubs.
Professional development days for teachers will be included in all
Vice-President Kristin Kroeger polled about 20 teachers who attended the
meeting and a strong majority of them liked the idea of having the fall
semester end before winter break instead of later in January. That would
relieve high school and middle students from having to worry about final
exams over their break.
calendars are geared to cutting down on summer learning loss and allow for
increased continuity of instruction, elementary teachers in the audience
felt that two or three week breaks could have a negative impact on younger
students when they return to school in the middle of the semester.
“It would be like
starting the year over again,” one teacher told the board.
are a factor that too would be impacted by calendar changes, audience
members said, and that parents would have to figure out childcare during the
breaks although it is possible they would be able to adapt.
Board members Mike
Trout and John Marshall added that there will also be pressure on summer
work schedules and businesses that rely on hiring high school students.
If the calendar
ever did change, it would have to “fit right” in agreement with the
community, staff and students, Duneland Superintendent of Schools David
Pruis said noting that “what works in one community doesn’t necessarily work
Pruis also said
that the seven public school corporations in the county follow the same
calendar essentially because of the vocational programs shared by Porter
County Education Services and would have to adapt to changes together.
School Principal Jeff Van Drie said athletics should be able to work with a
new calendar, but that there would be problems for the music departments
which need regular practice schedules for solo and ensemble competitions.
Board member Ron
Stone said he asked his children what calendar they prefer and Trout
solicited opinions from a few of his co-workers and found both showed some
favorability toward the modified options.
Moffett and Goetz
said they intend to continue researching balanced school calendars and get
feedback from the community in case Duneland decides in the future to
seriously consider the idea.
Pruis said anyone
wanting to give their views on the different calendars can mail a letter to
the Duneland Administration Center, 601 W. Morgan Ave., Chesterton, IN
46304. Please write on the envelope Attention: School Calendars.
Comments can be
emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Schools in Indiana
calendars are very rare in Indiana. Goetz said that schools in Goshen have
made plans to transition over from traditional to modified-balanced but
didn’t mention any others.