On Monday, January 8, the Payson Unified School District board of education will meet to discuss a proposed year-round school calendar. If adopted, the summer break would be shortened by about a month, and additional two-week breaks would be added during the year. The total number of school days would remain the same, at 178.
Year-round school calendars can be a double-edged sword. On one side, shorter summer vacations can help students retain knowledge and keep their learning skills fresh. The additional two-week breaks can help students and teachers avoid burnout, and give families options for vacations and reunions.
On the other side, a year-round schedule can throw a wrench in court-ordered custody arrangements and other pre-planned events and activities, while reducing opportunities for teachers to supplement their incomes with summer jobs.
But when placed on a scale, we believe the benefits of a year-round schedule outweigh the drawbacks.
The current calendar was designed to allow children time off during the growing and harvest seasons to help their families.
But clearly changes in our society have made a three-month summer recess unnecessary. Our young people are facing a fast-moving, competitive world. We must not be afraid to make changes that can help them succeed.
But because this change can have such an enormous impact on families and teachers, we are disappointed that the proposal was placed on the school board agenda with little fanfare or forewarning. Most parents have no idea the new calendar is being considered, and may be shocked to learn that it can be approved by the board as early as next Monday.
We urge parents who have questions, concerns or suggestions regarding a year-round school calendar to attend the school board meeting January 8 at 5:30 p.m. at the district office. We also suggest that district administrators send information and solicit input about the proposal from parents before it is put to a binding vote.
We believe it's a good idea to move to a year-round school calendar, but good ideas get better when the people they will impact have a chance to be involved.