Friday, March 26, 2010 | 12:50 p.m.
Year-Round Elementary Schools Converting to Nine-Month Calendar 2010-11
- Smith (Hal)
Citing concerns about the potential impact to students, families and staff, the Clark County School Board voted today to hold off on converting all 76 year-round elementary campuses to nine-month calendars as a cost-savings measure.
Under the existing district policy for triggering calendar conversions, 21 schools are set to move to nine-month schedules beginning in August. Those plans will proceed, saving the district an estimated $5.5 million.
Had the School Board approved sidestepping its own policies and allowed all 76 schools to make the switch, the savings would have been about $15 to $20 million. The district needs to trim $123 million from its operating budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
But the potential harm to student learning and the negative impact on some campus communities was too high a price for School Board members. Support employees at year-round schools face a cut in pay if they are moved to a nine-month schedule, as do some licensed personnel in specialist positions.
The vote to maintain the current policy was 4-3, with members Chris Garvey, Larry Mason, Sheila Moulton and Linda Young in support.
Opposing the motion were School Board President Terri Janison, Vice President Carolyn Edwards and member Deanna Wright, who wanted to give schools more flexibility than the current policy allows.
Edwards said the district should be looking at the downturn in enrollment (expected to drop this fall for a second consecutive year) as an opportunity. She recommended expanding the guidelines to give campuses more of a chance to make the calendar switch if it’s logistically reasonable, even if the current regulation’s “triggers” aren’t met.
“I don’t see why it has to be all or nothing,” Edwards said. “We can be a little bit in between here. There are schools that can come off (the year-round calendar) and want to come off. For those that it’s really a struggle, they can stay on.”
During Thursday’s meeting, which was continued to this morning for the vote, members heard from several constituencies that opposed the change, including staff and parents.
Many of the year-round schools serve high numbers of minority students from low-income households. Principals and teachers told School Board members they feared student achievement would suffer if at-risk students had a long summer break from learning, rather than the year-round schedule’s shorter track breaks. Some national studies have suggested that English language learners (who account for about 19 percent of Clark County’s student enrollment) do better following a year-round calendar.