By Erin Walden
News & Tribune
CLARK COUNTY, IN (NEWS AND TRIBUNE) - Public school districts in Clark County are moving away from the year-round calendar and toward a hybrid that closer resembles a traditional calendar.
The West Clark Community Schools board already approved its calendar for the 2018-19 school year. In it, students will return to school the second week of August, have one week off for fall and spring breaks, and be let out for the summer prior to Memorial Day, assuming there are no make-up snow days.
West Clark moved to a balanced calendar around six years ago, according to superintendent Chad Schenck. The goal was to offer remediation to students who have fallen behind during the off time (called "intersessions") but that has yet to happen.
"We were never able to get intersessions off the ground because of lack of funding and interest," Schenck said.
Andrew Melin, superintendent of Greater Clark County Schools Corp., said the shift will give the district more time to complete capital projects over the summer and make things more convenient for individuals who work in one school district but have children in another.
"Just the mindset of starting in July, you feel like you're just getting into the summer," he said.
Melin also pointed to intersessions — or the lack of the — as a reason for the shift.
"Initially the plan of attack was to use the first week of those breaks to provide additional instruction to students, especially those in most need of extra support," Melin said. "Those days, particularly in the spring, were being eaten up by snow days. There were also some financial considerations there, so the feeling was if we aren't going to use that time to provide that additional instructional support, then how valuable is that time."
The third school system in Clark County, Clarksville Community Schools Corp., has been in talks with the other school systems about the change, but the school calendar hasn't been approved by the school board yet, according to Nikolette Langdon, information specialist for the district.
New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated School Corp. board president Rebecca Gardenour said she is in favor of abandoning the year-round calendar, though the 2018-19 school calendar has already been approved and follows the balanced model.
"The balanced calendar has not been what I thought it would be. Mainly because those intersessions never happened. So why keep up with this especially when we are starting school in July?" she said.
"[The intersessions] never happened and so why keep [the balanced calendar] if that never came to fruition? Evidently it was too expensive," Gardenour said. Transporting students in the off time to their schools and paying teachers for their extra time are a few of the added costs.
Gardenour said she hopes to bring the idea to the board for discussion soon, noting it may be too late for the 2018-19 school year as teachers and staff plan on the calendar and changing it may cause issues.
If New Albany-Floyd County were to follow suit and match its school calendar with the Clark County districts, students at Prosser Career Education Center would also benefit.
"Personally, I would like to see us on the same schedule as the other school systems because of Prosser," Gardenour said. "We are looking out for Floyd County kids, but there's a lot of kids from as far away as Scottsburg and Charlestown and they go to Prosser, they do activities there, they do dinners. I think we need to look at the whole scenario."
Melin and Schenck also noted the benefit of being aligned with Prosser.