West Clark ditches year-long school for hybrid model

Updated: Dec. 1, 2017 at 9:21 PM EST
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SELLERSBURG, IN (WAVE) – Some Clark County school districts are doing an about-face on a nationwide trend in education.

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Six years ago, all three school districts in Clark County adopted a year-round calendar. It was meant to keep students from sliding back during long summer breaks, but West Clark's superintendent says he's not sure about the payoff.

After long talks with nearby districts, West Clark Community Schools Superintendent Chad Schenck said West Clark will go back to a more traditional calendar model.

Neighboring districts are considering the same, according to Schenck.

Clarksville Community Schools will consider a similar measure during board meetings in December, school officials said. Greater Clark Community Schools are expected to do the same, according to Schenck.

West Clark was the first to alter its school calendar model for the coming 2018-2019 school year. It's a change many in the district are ready for.

"Who else needs a ruler?," Rebecca Vineyard asked her second grade class at Silver Creek Elementary School in Sellersburg.

Her class learned about measurements on Friday, and the kids were eager to learn.

"Bubble in the answer on your bubble sheet," Vineyard said, going over the worksheet to explain the differences between feet, inches and centimeters.

The kids are engaged and ready to learn, but any time there's a break in classes, they have to make time to go back and review, according to Vineyard.

"I feel like that they all, no matter how long they have out, they really need some review," Vineyard said.

But according to Vineyard, even with the potential for a summer slide in student knowledge, West Clark's plans to ditch the year-long school calendar in favor of a longer break could help students in the classroom.

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"So they may not have gotten to travel as much, or may not have gotten to sleep in as much, so they're really just not ready to be back at school. So we have to go over more, because they're really not ready to be back in that frame of mind yet," Vineyard said.

Students will go from an eight-week summer break to a nine and one-half week summer break. It may not seem like much of a change, Vineyard said, but it often goes a long way toward making sure the kids in her classroom are ready to come back to school and learn.

Not every parent is thrilled. Vineyard said she's heard from many parents about the changes, and they seem split.

West Clark Community Schools Superintendent Chad Schenck said many in his and nearby districts wanted to go back towards a longer summer model.

But districts also wanted to make sure schools weren't out so long that students would slide back with their learning. Schenck said cutting parts of fall and spring break and adding an extra week and a half to the summer seemed like a strong compromise.

"Really, we just felt like the regression data did not show that we were going to see any kind of negative impact by starting school about a week and a half later," Schenck said.

The added summer break time will give more students the chance to take summer classes or participate in summer sports. The extra time will also allow older students to take on summer jobs, Schenck said, which can help the region's economy.

As a mom of four kids from primary to high school in West Clark, Vineyard said she's excited to have more time with her own kids this summer so they can all come back in August ready for class.

"And the kids, I think, will come back ready. It's August, not July and they're ready to come back and get into the swing of things," Vineyard said.

One change to next year that's getting concern from some parents is the addition of four e-learning days to the calendar, one per quarter.

A parent told WAVE3 News she worried that since kids will spend those days at home and not at school, the kids just won't do the work.

The next school year for West Clark will begin August 8. Anyone with questions or concerns about the new calendar school year model is encouraged to contact their school district.

Copyright 2017 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.