Is Year Round School On Its Way To Tri-Cities?
The idea of year round school in the United States isn't new. It's been used in a number of European Countries for decades. I can remember learning in high school back in the 80s that kids in Germany went to school year round. I also remember thinking no summer break would stink.
The idea began to creep in on this side of the Atlantic to the point where roughly 10 percent of public schools in the U.S. are considered year round. Now year round doesn't mean school becomes exactly like a fulltime job for an adult, they'll still go for 180 days, but the summer break will be shorter.
Why Year Round School?
The idea is to reduce something that has been debated for decades in learning circles...the "Summer Slide". As you would expect with a topic focused in academia, there are varying opinions about how much learning loss actually occurs during summer break.
The theory has given rise to structuring a school year with less lengthy breaks and more shorter ones. This is the concept one Tri-Cities school district is debating, and maybe as soon as the coming school year.
In January the Richland School District posted a public survey on their website to gauge opinions on an adjusted school calendar. In the post the acknowledged that a work group has been looking at this issue for a couple of years.
The proposed calendar would have students begin August 27th with their first week long break just before Halloween. The holiday break would run from the 23rd of December until the 6th of January. The next break would be the week of President's Day in February with the final break, before an eight week summer break, happening in early to mid April.
The Pros and The Cons
Those in favor say it will keep students more focused and reduce learning loss while providing more breaks during the school year. Those breaks can reduce stress for teachers, students, and administrators alike. It would also save money with regards to facilities and resources and potentially decrease absences.
Those opposed say it will increase the need for child care and there isn't enough solid evidence to show the "Summer Slide" is real and not just a theory. It could also throw traditional summer activities like vacations and summer camp out the window.
Here Is A Complication
While the School Board and the District can move forward with discussions on year round school, they can't arbitrarily set a date to implement it. It would need to be in the CBA with the Teacher's Union. My understanding is that conversation hasn't even begun.
A 2024-25 start for year round school in Richland would be tough to pull off without a new contract. That means the teacher's would need to buy in on the idea as well, or 50.1 percent would. There is no guarantee that is going to happen, especially if they haven't been invited to the table.
The other two area districts, Kennewick and Pasco, will also be watching closely to see how it works in Richland if they move forward. The three districts don't have exactly the same calendars currently, but are relatively close. This would alter that radically.
It would also make Richland the second district in the State to go to a year round schedule. The Winlock School District implemented year round or a "balanced" schedule in 2022.
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