Alternatives to Extending School Year

By: Katie Kim Email
By: Katie Kim Email

Tuesday may have been the first day back for most students, but kids at Horizon Elementary in Holt have been in school for six weeks.

"We started August 4th," says Horizon Principal David Hornak.

The K-4 building is the only school in Ingham County on the year round model.

"We have the same number of days as our traditional counterparts, but we choose to take periodic breaks," Hornak says.

He says his students only have six weeks for summer break. But Hornak believes shorter interruptions in learning are more effective.

"We get right down to current year's curriculum, within days, if not minutes of when students return, instead of having to reteach to catch up," Hornak says.

But some educators want to take it one step further. Along with shorter breaks, they think students also need longer school years.

"Children have to be competitive worldwide," says William Mayes with the Michigan Association of School Administrators. "Children have to compete with children from other countries."

Mayes tells us Michigan students are in class an average of 165 days. He supports the governor's proposal to extend that to 180. Students in countries like Japan and China are in school for 220-225 days, says Mayes.

"Nobody likes change but a baby in a wet diaper," Mayes says. "And adding days might be a change."

School administrators we talked to say the've been fighting for more instructional hours for years. But more time in a classroom means more money, and that's just something Michigan public schools don't have.

"If revenues don't keep pace with inflation, don't keep pace with all the other costs, then we go behind," Mayes says.

Educators say if the money's not there, more schools should look at the year round model.

"A lot of time is spent reteaching that first month in September. This would eliminate a lot of that."

The only other school implementing the year round model is Hunt Elementary School in Jackson. Hornak says it will be up and running next school year.

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  • by Anonymous on Sep 8, 2010 at 01:54 PM
    Ok...there are numerous complaints from parents as to the large number of students per classroom, lack of books, busing does this worthless governor (she doesn't deserve the capitalization) propose to pull this one off?... AND did I miss the memo that said kids aren't allowed to be "kids" anymore? They are now just brain matter that needs filing?...Sounds like the ones posting "for" this are the parents looking to dump their kids for longer stretches...hmpf..."didn't realize how time consuming "kids" were".... Guess you should have taken that into consideration before hand!
  • by Lisa Location: GL on Sep 7, 2010 at 11:45 PM
    Most models of year round do not expand the actual hours in class, but rather stretch it differently throughout the year - I think you would find the same here. Year round schools typically allow for more frequent breaks at different times of the year, which allows everyone to regroup away from each other periodically and to benefit from a model which doesn't group all instruction into a shorter period, but stretches it out over the year. Students, families and teachers would benefit from having a more balanced approach to instructional time by not focusing on long, outdated summers, or just adding to already long days. Instruction and learning breaks down when stress levels on all sides get too high - quality not just quantity is what should be sought. Parents and families would also probably find it beneficial to be able to take time together more frequently because not many can take too many weeks off at once, but can take long weekends or a week or two at a time.
  • by Anonymous on Sep 7, 2010 at 10:41 PM
    I would be all for year round school. MY daughter remembers everything she was taught from the year before so she gets her assignments done real quick. Only thing that I can say is that instead of having every thirty days the kids get off from school should be every two months and only get less than a month for summer vacation.if they do not want to go year round then cut some of the early days and days off.Heck my daughter gets only 18 out of 30 days in school in November between the days off for Teacher stuff, parent teachers conferences is half days, and then she gets 2 days off for Thanksgiving. All these days off and early dismisals is ridiculous. I was lucky if I got 1-2 days of early release when I was going to school.
  • by Jen Location: Holt, Mi on Sep 7, 2010 at 08:23 PM
    As a parent of two students at Horizon Elementary, we LOVE the year round schedule. We moved here 3 years ago and our oldest son experienced the school for one year and still says that he wishes all the schools were year round! We agree with David Hornak, in that teaching begins almost immediately and that the students truly view it as just another break not a vacation. As a family with some kids on the year round schedule and one student on a traditional schedule we still view this as a positive. It allows us to have extra one-on-one time with the kids who are at home on break and who doesn't like to go on vacation when the hot spots are less crowded and cheaper. David Hornak is doing a fantastic job at Horizon and offers so much to his students and staff. We are proud to be part of the Horizon Family.
  • by Matt Location: Holt on Sep 7, 2010 at 08:13 PM
    I wish more schools (and dare I say it - school districts) would consider extending their school year. Isn't that what Race to the Top was all about? Kids are ready to go back to school after a few weeks of summer break. In order for our kids to compete, we must be bold and embrace change. The studies have been done and the advantages cannot be discounted.
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