02/12/14 Nearly 50 people attended the 2nd Balanced Calendar meeting of the Plymouth Community School Corporation last night. Those in attendance included students, parents, grandparents, business owners, teachers, staff and administrative personnel.
Michelle Riise, Director of Quality Programs used a PowerPoint presentation to highlight several items about a Balanced Calendar… First and foremost, a balanced calendar is NOT YEAR ROUND SCHOOL. Students still go to school for a minimum of 180 days starting in early August and finishing in early June. The new school calendar would have a longer fall break of approximately 7 school days with winter break still consisting of two week off and then spring break would be two weeks instead of one. Summer vacation would be 8 weeks verses the 10 weeks we currently have.
Riise explained that the current calendar is about 150 year old when most of our population worked in agriculture and so students were needed to work the family farm during the spring, summer and harvest time. That has changes and statistics show that only3% of Americans are engaged in agriculture.
Looking at benefits of a balanced calendar show improved test scores, increased attendance and a decrease in discipline referrals. It has also shown that drop-off in student retention is reduced and there is an increase in graduation rates.
When ask why consider a balanced calendar Riise said there are increased curriculum for students now, with higher learning expectations, and the schools could offer remediation through the year instead of just summer school.
The school administration realizes there are challenges such as: No one likes change, working with daycare providers so they understand the new scheduling, a decision to require attendance at intersession, conflicts with vocational class schedules, early summer and late summer conflicts like AAU, the State Fair, summer camps, military training, summer jobs for students and staff and transportation during the intersessions which Plymouth Schools want to supply.
Opening up the meeting to questions, it was asked if the decision to change would be put to a vote. It was noted that the superintendents in the various schools in the coop and the school boards would make the final decision. Nick Chaney asked if there would be concession with the coop such all or nothing. Superintendent Dan Tyree said, “Each school board ultimately will make their own decision but those of us in the coop have decided that the majority will rule.”
There were questions about making up snow days with the new balanced calendar and using the extended breaks for some of those dates if necessary.
Ed Sherry-berry asked about the moral of students and staff being required to work on intersession. Superintendent Tyree said teachers would choose to work those extra days for extra pay. Michelle Riise said that intersessions would probably be half days, much like summer school and they would also offer enrichment opportunities for students such at field trips to museums and other outings.
Another parent asked about the length of the school day and learned that it would remain the same.
This was the third meeting in the Plymouth School Corporation. The first meeting was on February 5th was cancelled due to the weather. That meeting will be rescheduled.
The other schools also considering a balanced calendar for the 2015-2016 school year are Argos, Culver, John Glenn, Knox, North Judson, Oregon Davis and Triton. These schools are also having meetings and anyone is welcome to attend them.
March 4 North Judson Elementary at 7 p.m.
March 6 Knox High School at 6 p.m.
March 6 North Judson High School at 7 p.m.
March 10 Triton Administration Bldg. at 7 p.m.
March 11 Walkerton Elementary at 7 p.m.
March 12 Oregon Davis Board Room at 6 p.m.
March 12 Culver High School at 7 p.m.
March 13 Argos Administration Bldg. at 6 p.m.
March 13 John Glenn High School 7 p.m.