Districts Weigh Pros and Cons of Year-Round Schools

waitingforbus2As educators begin a new school year, they usually have the time to attend staff meetings, tidy up their classrooms, and to prepare for incoming students. Those who teach at multi-track year-round schools, where the school year begins a week after the previous year ended, probably find themselves in a different situation.

Finalizing grades and report cards may take place while school is still in session, leaving teachers with a little over a day to prepare for the upcoming school year, only a week away. At least, that is what it’s like for Marcella Cox and others, depending on which track they are on, who teach in the Wake County Public School System (WCPSS) in North Carolina.

Several elementary and middle schools in WCPSS offer multi-track schooling. Those schools usually have a 45-15 schedule, where students and teachers are in school for 45 days, followed by a 15-day vacation, or “track out.” Instead of spending more money to build additional schools, WCPSS had 22 of its elementary and middle schools convert to year-round schedules beginning at the start of the 2007-08 school year.

“I don’t believe it’s more challenging, just different,” said Cox, a sixth grade language arts teacher at West Lake Middle School in Apex, which operates on a multi-track schedule. “There are some changes that we have to get used to when making the switch.”

Year-round schools are on the rise. According to a recent report by the Congressional Research Service, the number of year-round schools has increased by 764 – about 26 percent – since 2007.

Most of these schools typically operate on a multi-track or a single-track schedule. To mitigate overcrowding, multi-track schools split students and teachers into three or four groups. So while some students and teachers are in school, others are on vacation. Single-track schedules, on the other hand, include shorter summers and extra vacation days during the school year. Additionally, everyone is in school at the same time.

This year, multiple schools adopted year-round schedules to hopefully help them improve academically. For instance, four schools in Charlotte, now have year-round schedules, and an elementary school in Portland, Oregon, switched as well. Some schools are even receiving extra funding if they implement year-round calendars. A few schools and school districts in Michigan have recently received funds to change calendars and more are expected to do the same.

Many schools convert to year-round schools to decrease student and teacher burnout and to make full use of the school and its facilities.  Some critics, however, note that extracurricular activities, like sports and band, may be more difficult under the year-round schedule. Unless the entire district converts to the same calendar, parents with kids in different grade levels can find it troublesome to plan vacations. And although one of the main reasons for switching to year-round schools is to improve retention rates, there is no concrete proof that students improve academically.

Yet Cox and Tia McQueen, a fourth grade teacher at the multi-track Salem Elementary School, both prefer the year-round schedule. Why? Teachers and students at year-round schools experience less burnout and they spend less time reviewing material since students don’t encounter the “summer slide,” or a loss of learning. What’s more, parents and teachers are able to form long-lasting bonds from multi-track schedules. Parents usually try to put all their kids on the same track, allowing McQueen to teach multiple kids from the same family.

“Parents like it a lot,” said McQueen, who’s been teaching for nine years. “There’s a really good bond with families on your track.”

Still, there are flaws with the multi-track year-round schedule. Placing teachers into different groups makes collaboration more difficult; at least one track is out while the other tracks remain in the school. While districts save money from maximizing capacity with year-round schools, operational costs can be more expensive than at traditional schools.

Teachers often share rooms at multi-track schools. They have to take their supplies – rolling carts, file cabinets, podiums, etc. – with them when leaving on their 15-day vacation. Students have early release days when the “track outs” occur – an attempt by WCPS to give teachers days to be used for staff development. But Cox said that it hasn’t been effective.

“There is so much pressure on setting up the classroom and getting ready for the kids to return,” Cox said.  “So often, staff development is not fully utilized by all teachers or is not the best it could be since the teachers feel such pressure to get into their classrooms.”

Some students enroll at different times as well. Cox, who’s been teaching for 22 years, said she is on track three, in which many students enter during the middle of August. The school year starts in early July, resulting in potential challenges for educators on her track.

Moreover, Cox said some schools in WCPS have not, in the past, filled their tracks. Last year, her team, composed of four teachers, expected to have 113 students, but only had 92. A similar team experienced the same issue and two teachers lost their jobs, she said.

“So we wonder why the multi-track year round is needed if we cannot completely fill all four tracks,” she said, noting that some elementary schools in WCPS recently eliminated three tracks and put all their students on track four only. “This would mean that they are not benefitting from the year round schedule’s ability to house more students.”

But for Cox and McQueen, the pros still seem to outweigh the cons.

“Most people are very hesitant to year-round schools,” McQueen said. “People just need to keep an open mind about the whole thing.”

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  • cheese man.

    aint nobody got time for school year round.!!

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    These are setting a bad example

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  • Travis Meyer

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  • Kiki

    I’m all in for year long school

  • FOEVER ALONE

    no thank you there should not be year round schools

  • Advertisment

    I would prefer no year round schools but there are some good things about having year round schools

  • fffff

    Stay with the regular school days, don’t change unless abousletly nexxcenfjsay.

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    no

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  • willow

    i think year-round school would be great because we would get breaks in between.

  • jon

    Ok so we have to think of the teen kids who have lives outside of school too. do you think we all want to be at school for a WHOLE YEAR? in my opinion this is just ridiculous. We need a break from school and a break like a week doesn’t really cut it to me. does a week or a day off from school cut it too you? ask yourself that and see if you really want to have school all year round? i want days where i can go fishing on my own time not wait till after 4 to go. this is why i think school year round is a bad decision.

    • noj

      In the most popular year-round calendar, we would attend school for 6 weeks, then have a 2 week break, but summer break would still be a month long.

      • Nathaniel

        no we wouldnt have a summer because thats the point of a year round school

    • i am grammar guy

      actually you have multiple breaks, 3 15 days long and your summer break is 30 days long and i’m pretty sure you have a week off of school near christmas so more frequent breaks you might say something OH MAH GAW WE HAZ LES BRKS NR SO SHRT but no we would actually benefit and learn more do to summer slide being less effective lol also what grammar? lelz

  • Nate

    No thank you. Coming from a freshman in high school, school is stressing enough. I personally wouldn’t be able to handle it if I had to go all year.

  • jason Hernandez

    even though year round school and normal school have the same amount of school days the year round school causes more stress.

  • D’Asia Scudder

    Year-round schools is very expensive and is a waste of time.

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    year round school is boring

  • alysiasanchez223

    i love summer way to much to go to year round school

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  • shanese Sawyers

    year round schools have no summer breakes

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    year round school is just another way to cuase stress upon students ………

  • hello

    i go to year round school too and i love it

  • hello

    we get short breaks

  • resuretion

    year round school is a waste of time

    • Jonah

      Well, did you know that, Overcrowding is a big problem for many schools in cities. Some are so overpopulated that they don’t have enough books and chairs for their students, and some schools turn their cafeterias and bathrooms into classrooms. One reasons that it’s good for kids, is their learning. Another reason why that is, is they go for a certain amount of weeks, then have a certain amount of weeks off. The last reason why, is they can concentrate better on their work, and they have a certain amount of groups of people going to school.

  • alysiasanchez223

    year round school also makes it hard for students or teens to get a job in the summer becuase they might need it for collage or to support themselves.

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  • resuretion

    they think we have all the time we want. we have lives to

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  • yukibobz

    I think year round schooling is an efficient method, because they can make students be engaged to learning, higher test scores, and get frequent short breaks because summer break is too boring.

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    what about summer camps?

  • Marleyisbae

    I agree that students should go to year round schools

  • Jeremy Rodriguez

    Well school year is a good idea because helps kids with education and they have more break and its only three things that are different and those are 1. One extra month of summer 2. more breaks with the special holiday 3. One month of summer

  • ben pulliam

    year round school is a bad idea because students like me need summer vacations and it is possible that students like me can remember everything we learned during the school year using a bunch of tests which if they get 1000 out of 1000 then they would get a A+ on the test and i do agree with Billy that many families need a summer vacation because if we like going places like to Costa Rica or to Cosamel mexico.

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  • Ca’ren

    Hello I was as well a student in a Year Round School and everything was a lot as in price but it was worth it and parents, U should let your children go to that kind of school. Thin about they din’t take away summer they actually replace it with other breaks. Your children could be less smarter going to a traditional calendar. I know what your thinking “Oh Sir but they have more breaks.”Summer time is the only time that students drop as they come back. So I will leave u off with this think or consider letting your child go to year round schools.

  • Brooklyn

    year-round schooling is not the right path, i am doing an argumentative writing on year-round schooling and there is not alot of benifits of year-round schooling. In my opinion it is not a good idea.

  • Anonymous

    Year round schooling is fun and very helpful!