HOPE — The Flat Rock-Hawcreek School Corp. will fully implement a balanced calendar next school year that shortens summer vacations in exchange for longer breaks in the spring and fall.
School officials opted for the change as the next step in a process that saw partial implementation this school year, when students will have their first two-week spring break.
Superintendent Kathy Griffey said the school system is delaying the other half of that equation — its first two-week fall break — to help parents and students ease into the process.
At that point, it will mirror the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp., where students came off their first two-week break Monday and will have a similar break in the spring.
The bulk of information on balanced-calendar school schedules points to an
academic advantage for children with shorter summer vacations, according to researchers at Duke and Johns Hopkins universities. The assumption is that a shorter summer break helps students retain more knowledge from the end of one school year to the start of the next.
Griffey said that’s one reason Flat Rock-Hawcreek decided to go with the balanced calendar. Another is that doing so lines up its scheduled programming with that of Bartholomew Consolidated schools.
“A lot of our students go to C4 classes in Columbus,” she said, referring to the Columbus Area Career Connection. “When BCSC was on a two-week break, so was C4. It forced us to make some adjustments with those students.”
C4 provides career and technical education to high school students from 12 schools in Bartholomew, Brown, Decatur, Jackson and Johnson counties, with classes at Columbus East and North high schools plus the McDowell Adult Education Center.
Becky Schoen, guidance registrar at Hauser High School, said another problem with not having a balanced calendar is that it affects athletics. She said many schools that Hauser students play in different sports are on balanced calendars.
She said the schools have had to move a couple of junior high games already.
And yet students’ parents who were contacted by The Republic said they are unsure that a balanced calendar is the answer.
Adora Paetzel, whose child attends Hauser, said she likes that the new schedule will give teachers more time to regroup throughout the year so they can return to class with vigor.
But she worries about students with special needs such as autism.
“Getting back in a routine is hard on them and the teachers and everyone around them,” Paetzel said. “At least coming off summer break, that was just one time a year.”
Jean Huff, whose elementary school son has autism, agreed that it’s hard for an autistic child to get back into the swing of things. She explained that autistic people need structure and get out of sorts and stressed when things change.
“It’s a little easier when the break is just a couple of days,” Huff said. “When it’s longer, that’s when things get difficult.”
She said she also dislikes that the summers will get shorter, because that’s a time of the year that her son especially enjoys. She said it’s still hard for him to come back to school after the summer, but it only happens once a year.
“He learns better when he’s in the swing of things,” Huff said.
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