The Plymouth School Board gave the go-a-head for school administrators to proceed with introducing a balanced calendar for the 2015-2016 school year. Specific details of how the calendar will look will not be brought back to the Board until February, 2015, however.
Director of Quality Programs, Michele Riise, presented an overview of what a balanced calendar would mean. She said, “It is not a year round calendar. It is still 180 days of school.”
According to Riise, breaks would be broken up throughout the school year that could be used for family vacations or by teachers for students remediation or credit recovery.
Riise indicated that other schools using a balanced model have shown academic improvement. She said, “A balanced calendar would mean more days in school prior to state testing, increase student and teacher morale, decrease staff and student absences, and decrease discipline referrals if the Plymouth Schools model mirrors other schools using the balanced schedule.”
According to Superintendent Daniel Tyree, the Boys and Girls Club and the Before and After school program have indicated that they are ready to accommodate students during breaks.
Tyree said, “We need to “front load” academics for students to be ready for PSAT, ISTEP and other testing.”
The loss of some of the two-a-day practices for sports teams has been a concern expressed by some staff and parents. Tyree said he has discussed the matter with Coach John Barron. Tyree said, “Barron said it would not affect athletes.”
Prior to bringing the idea to the Board, administrators used radio, newspaper and television coverage to alert parents of three community meetings those were held where the public could ask questions. According to Tyree, surveys from the meetings showed that 75 percent were in favor of going to a balanced schedule and only 23 were opposed. They also held staff meetings in each of the seven buildings in the corporation as well as group meetings at the elementary, middle and high schools levels. Tyree said 86 percent of staff were in favor of the change and only 11 percent were opposed.
Before a final school year calendar can be developed, administrators must work out professional development days for the teaching staff; determine how to make up days missed due to inclement weather, and work out a base calendar with the vocational cooperative that services several school districts.
Carol Anders Correspondent