During the next two months, the project manager for the proposed calendar changes will be on a listening campaign to gather input and feedback from parents, staff and students during nearly 40 informational meetings.
Before going out to the public, Bryn Lapenta, senior director for the WCSD, worked with a team of parents, teachers, school administrators and community members that had been studying the issue. Last year, three calendars were presented to the public through a district survey. One emerged as a clear favorite with 60 percent of respondents favoring the balanced calendar that Lapenta says has been shown to improve the achievement of all students because teachers are able to spend less time reviewing and more time on new material.
“The proposed balanced calendar adds a possible four weeks for intersession or breaks that can be used for student learning time during the school year. Intersession could be acceleration, remediation or enrichment depending on the needs of the students,” Lapenta said. “All students regardless of achievement level, credit attainment, economic status or school attended could benefit from additional time in the school year.”
Questions about the effect of family scheduling, transportation and daycare have come up during these conversations. The district’s Family-School Partnerships Coordinator D’Lisa Crain said that since school would be in session for the same number of days with the proposed calendar, the effect on daycare and transportation would be minor.
“Family scheduling should actually improve as all schools, both elementary and secondary, will be on the same schedule, so planning a vacation or scheduling a sibling to be home while younger children are out of school should be better than what currently exists. The one exception to that would be the limited number of schools which will be on multi-track,” Crain said.
Athletic practices and sport schedules are another question asked by some parents. Ken Cass, student activities director for the WCSD, says the balanced calendar will have limited impact on those schedules.
“It may, in fact, have a positive impact as coaches will have times during the year when they will have greater access to students,” Cass said. “Other schools with strong athletic programs have already gone to a balanced calendar with no impact on their team sports. It may take some getting used to but I’m confident our coaches and student athletes will respond well to the new calendar.”
For information on the proposed calendar meeting locations, visit www.washoecountyschool.org and click on the “2013-2014 School Year Calendar Input Meetings” button.