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July 25, 2014

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All elementary schools moving to nine-month calendar

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Mona Shield Payne/Special to the Sun / file photo

First grader Melina Benavides walks hand-in-hand out of school with her grandmother, Irma Camargo, in August 2009 after the first day of classes at Steve Schorr Elementary School in Henderson. The Clark County School District announced Wednesday that Schorr is one of 55 schools moving to a nine-month calendar.

The 55 elementary schools in the Clark County School District operating on year-round calendars will transition to nine-month calendars.

The School District announced today that all of the district's elementary schools will operate on a nine-month calendar beginning this fall.

The change is expected to save the School District about $21.3 million in personnel and operating expenses during the 2010-11 school year.

Based on changes in enrollment, the district had planned to convert 21 year-round schools to nine-month calendars in August. But the School Board voted this month to sidestep regulations, including counting portable classrooms as “regular” seats, to allow more campuses to make the change.

Also making the shift possible will be an increase in class sizes for grades 1-3, approved by the Legislature during the special session as a cost-saving measure.

Many parents have spoken in favor of nine-month calendars at recent School Board meetings, arguing that the year-round schedules hurt participation in extracurricular activities and family vacations.

Nearly all of the year-round campuses had requested to convert, district officials said.

The move could make it easier for the district to schedule professional development for staff, prepare students for state-mandated testing and reduce transportation and special education costs. On the downside, the legislative waiver allowing increased class sizes expires in 2011, and once it does the district would likely have to revert to year-round calendars at many campuses unless lawmakers approved an extension.

Some studies nationally have found that year-round programs are preferable for English-language learners, who account for about 20 percent of the district’s students, because they benefit from continued instruction without a long summer break.

However, there is no significant difference in test scores among the district’s year-round and nine-month campuses — both have standout programs as well as struggling schools.

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