RENO, NV - In just about a year from now, schools throughout Washoe County will be placed on what's called a “Balanced Calendar.” It means most public schools in Washoe County will have to all start on the same day in August, and end on the same day in June. The move is in part a response to a year round school calendar which has played havoc on some families' schedules and not delivered on many promises
The first grade students at Anderson Elementary School are just three days into the school year.
At Anderson they are on a year round schedule with 45 days on, 15 days off.
For some of these kids it means less time to have to recapture what they learned just months ago in kindergarten and build from there.
Some parents not used to year around school might not like the concept, but many become converts like Tara Eure
“By the second year I noticed they forgot a lot less over the summer, they learned a lot more, and they were learning more quickly,” says Eure
Research shows some students attending at-risk schools do better in year round school programs.
But overall year round school students don't do any better scholastically than students who attend traditional schools.
“School calendars were set up so kids would work on the farm with their parents. We are not an agricultural society any more. Children were let go to help on the farm in the summer. We don't have a society like that anymore,” says Deborah O'Gorman, principal of Anderson Elementary.
O'Gorman says year round schools were established to ward off over crowding, and forestall building new schools.
She says here in Washoe County a total of 26 elementary schools are on some kind of year round schedule.
She says benefits include a time for students to make up courses--those same breaks can ward off burn out for other students.
Still over the years parents have complained about the inability to coordinate family vacations and schedules especially if a sibling attends middle and high school here.
That's where the balanced schedule comes into play--it starts August 2013.
“Elementary, middle and high school will have a common start date and common time of for vacation times. A week off in October, 3 weeks off in December, 2 weeks off in Spring, out the second week of June, says O'Gorman.”
All schools in the district will follow the balanced calendar except for elementary schools on multi-track year round schedules.
Some districts nationwide have dropped the year round schedule all together.
Either the concept was oversold, or it cost more money than a traditional school year.
That was the case in Clark County where all schools there have reverted back to a straight 9 month school year.