Grateful For The School Schedule Change

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Editor:

We want to thank the school board for changing the school calendar to lengthen the summer and shorten the fall and spring breaks.

The current schedule, introduced on a trial basis in 2001, purported to promote better cognitive retention, less teacher burnout and decreased student and teacher absentee rates.

There has never been any data offered that any of these benefits were realized.

In contrast, there are two problems with our current schedule: The summer is too short, and the fall and spring breaks are too long. Starting school in July disrupts many summer plans: Vacations and reunions can't be taken in early August or even late July. Businesses suddenly have all their employees vying for vacation during June and July. An eight-week

break is inadequate for most summer programs: The Taylor pool is forced to close or curtail its hours in late July because the lifeguards are back in school. Our children return on July 26 to unprepared middle and high schools where they change classes and teachers five times, wait for textbooks to arrive and classroom remodeling to be finished. It's time for school to begin in August.

The two-week fall and spring breaks are likewise disruptive. One week is sufficient for most family vacations, but how many families with kids can afford to leave work for two weeks? It is too long to have the kids home, but not long enough to schedule any activities. The two-week break is disruptive to sports leagues, private lessons and scouting. My Scout troop's program is hurt by a two-week/three weekend untouchable void when campouts and activities cannot be scheduled, because at any given time some of the boys are gone. When kids start high school, all extracurricular activities such as sports continue, so many families (such as ours) can't go on vacation because the athletic season continues despite the break. We would prefer a one-week fall and spring break and a longer summer.

Many are ready for a change. Every advantage of a fall and spring break will remain with a one-week break, but we can still have a meaningful summer. We support the proposed 2007-2008 schedule, and ask the school board to stay with their decision.

James W. Schouten, MD, Ruth Schouten, Payson

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