On January 11, WCPSS staff recommended to the Board of Education Student Achievement Committee that all twelve Elementary Support Model schools have a one-track year-round calendar. Three of the twelve schools already use a year-round calendar, so the recommendation was to convert nine elementary school calendars to year-round.
Calendar/Schedules is one of six dimensions identified as “defined support” for the twelve Elementary Support Model schools. (The other five dimensions are governance, staffing, professional development, common resources, and measures.) Under this dimension, schools are working toward consistent daily schedules such as set times for literacy, math, and science instruction. They also have protected professional learning team (PLT) time during the school day.
Staff believe that a year-round calendar provides numerous solutions within the Calendar/Schedules dimension of support. With regular the three-week breaks of a year-round calendar, teachers can take part in professional development during track out workdays throughout the year. This reduces the need for teachers to be away from campus and provides professional development as the year progresses (rather than at the beginning or end of the year). Additionally, students have access to learning opportunities during track out times and experience shorter breaks rather than a long summer break during which summer learning loss occurs.
Committee member raised a myriad of questions about the recommendation. They asked about parent buy in, survey return rates, family access to daycare during track out, calendar options provided to those who want a traditional calendar, quality of track out programs offered at the school, transportation, and how to best meet the needs of transient students who arrive later in the fall to start a school year.
On January 19, WCPSS staff made a revised recommendation to the full Board of Education to delay the calendar conversions for nine schools. Almost all board members were happy about the revised recommendations to delay conversions. Specifically, board members Kevin Hill and Susan Evans spoke about providing as much notice as possible to parents about calendar changes. School board members Dr. Jim Martin and Tom Benton spoke about the need for high-quality track out offerings at these schools. The delay provides more time to develop and implement those programs.
A few of the nine schools have indicated a desire and readiness to move to the year-round calendar. Barwell Road, Walnut Creek, and Wilburn Elementaries will be considered for year-round calendars next year based on principal feedback. Staff at Walnut Creek Elementary have advocated for the year-round calendar during public comment at recent school board meetings.
Staff will return to the school board on February 2 with recommendations for those schools. Additionally, Deputy Superintendent for Academic Advancement Cathy Moore stated that staff would like to provide more information on developing high quality track out opportunities prior to the end of the current school year.