School board open to year-round schedule at Sumner

Published 8:38 am Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sumner is one step closer to having a shorter summer break.

The Austin Public School board passed a motion Monday evening to officially sanction Sumner Elementary School staff’s efforts to further research whether to switch to a continuous calendar, or year-round schedule.

Schools that operate on a continuous schedule spread school breaks around instead of holding a large summer break. However, students have the same number of days in each school year. The idea behind a continuous calendar revolves around getting students to retain more of what they’ve learned. With multiple but shorter breaks, students won’t forget as much.

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“The biggest concern is we’re on an agrarian calendar that makes no sense academically,” David Krenz, the district’s superintendent said during Monday’s special session meeting.

Sumner has looked at academic achievement solutions like a continuous calendar for about a year, but hadn’t seriously considered the idea until earlier this fall. According to Sumner Principal Sheila Berger, who gave a presentation to the district Monday, there is no research which states the current school year calendar model helps students learn. Additionally, Sumner staff found no research which says students don’t retain learning just as well by using an alternative calendar model.

Sumner appears to be considering a 45/15 schedule, although a formal calendar plan hasn’t been filed yet. A 45/15 schedule means students would attend school for 45 school days, or about nine weeks, and then go on break, or intersession, for about 15 school days, or about three weeks. Sumner would have to start school earlier than other schools while ending the school year when the rest of the district does. This is to make sure the district’s rollover process in moving students through the district goes smoothly, according to Berger.

Thus far, preliminary research shows the district wouldn’t be much affected by the change in one elementary school. Busing would remain the same, according to Berger, as Sumner’s routes are different than the rest of the district’s and only about 50 of the 340 or so kids attending Sumner ride the bus. An HVAC renovation would allow Sumner to keep students in a controlled climate during hot summer days.

Federal and state dollars designed to reimburse the district for free and reduced lunches would remain the same as well, they’d just be implemented at different times. Sumner staff is currently working on solutions for student programming and remedial courses during the summer break and intersession.