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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Balanced calendar discussed

Thursday, January 31, 2013

LEAAP Director Mary Yelton addressed the CCS Board of Trustees at Wednesday's work session. Yelton said research has shown a shorter summer break helps students retain more information learned in school. Yelton was in favor of the balanced calendars offering a shorter summer break for CCS students. [Order this photo]
More than 30 parents, teachers, administrators and community members gathered at the Clay Community Schools Board of Trustees special work session Wednesday to discuss the possibility of implementing a balanced calendar during the 2013-14 school year.

Superintendent Kim Tucker opened the work session by stating she and the other members of the board, "want to receive feedback on these calendars. We want to hear your thoughts so we can take that information into consideration."

One of the first parents to speak was Anthony Schleppy, who said he was in favor of the balanced calendar options because it would make it easier for parents who work on rotating schedules.

"As far as vacation schedules go, I work rotating shift work, so the balanced calendars would work better for my family personally," Schleppy said. "If there's only one week of spring break or fall break, everyone will want to take off work, that's not going to happen, but if we have two weeks it will be a lot more flexible."

Next, Mary Yelton, Director of the LEAAP (Linking Education to Adults, Adolescents and Preschoolers) Center, spoke to the board regarding different studies that have proven shorter breaks help kids lose less information.

"Research shows that having shorter time during the summer, students don't lose as much, and that has been a great concern," Yelton said.

Many parents were concerned with the two-week spring break on the balanced calendar.

Parents had a number of reasons why they did not favor a two-week spring break, including not being able to take time off of work, not finding adequate or convenient day care and their children's abilities to retain information over longer breaks.

Yelton and others suggested the use of the YMCA's childcare facilities during school breaks. Other parents argued the YMCA may not be able to handle a large amount of children for that amount of time, and that there is no YMCA available in Clay City, where many parents and children live.

Additionally, some were concerned about the lack of care that would be given to children during spring break who may not have adequate care at home. These parents worried those children (specifically those on the schools' free/reduced lunch program) would go hungry during a two-week spring break.

To that issue, board member Rob Miller said, 'that is a social issue. It's not the corporation's job to be the parent of all these students."

Further, parents were worried about what might happen if spring break fell right before students take the ISTEP+ tests. Parents were concerned a two-week break right before testing could affect test scores.

Board member Ron Scherb was concerned with the balanced calendar as it calls for the first day of school falling on Aug. 1, which collides with the Indiana State Fair. Scherb's concern was that 4-H students who are accepted to participate in the state fair will miss the first day of school, or parents who are also educators will miss their first teaching day if they take their child to the fair.

"You excuse the students if they want to go to a state fair competition," Scherb said, "but some teachers are parents too, and they have to decide whether they're going to go to school on that first day to bond with their students for the first time, or to go to the fair with their child. The first day is one of the most important. We're making people choose between missing the first day or being with their child."

Tucker said she was, "sorry they have to make that choice."

Another topic of discussion with the calendars was a need for parent-teacher conferences. Scherb asked Tucker why there were none, and she said under former state Superintendent of Education Tony Bennett, legislation mandated the school corporation not exceed 180 school days. Therefore, there was no space to put in parent-teacher conferences during the school days.

"Once (Bennett) said those conferences could not count in the 180 days, we had to eliminate them," Tucker said.

Many parents wondered why conferences could not be in the evenings, but Tucker said due to employee contracts and schedules, teachers are not able to work evenings.

"We can't mandate teachers to come in the evening and give them flex time in the morning," Tucker said.

Consensus among those attending the meeting seemed to be that parent-teacher conferences were preferred. The board said they would look into making this a possibility for the next school year.

Throughout the meeting, board members recognized the need to hear these concerns and accept that not everyone will be pleased with the end result.

"Whatever we decide, not everyone will be 100 percent happy," Board President Jennifer Kaelber said. "We just have to make it the best we can."

"This is a work in progress," board member Amy Burke Adams said. "We may have to implement one of these for next year and then recognize the problems as they come and fix them for the following year. What we're striving for is a schedule that best fits Clay Community Schools. We may not implement the perfect one, but it will give us the opportunity to see what works and what doesn't."

Scherb said he would prefer to look at the options longer and "work the bugs out" before implementing it.

"I say we work through these problems now and wait until next year (2014-15) to implement it," Scherb said.

Board members said they will think further about the calendars before their final vote is made. The board will vote on the 2013-14 school calendar at their Feb. 14 meeting. The meeting will take place at 7:30 p.m., at the CCS Administrative Building.

More information on all proposed calendars can be found at http://www.edline.net/pages/clay_communi.... Anyone wishing to submit input or vote on their preferred calendar must do so by Friday, Feb. 8.

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One of the reasons teachers will not have a parent-teacher conference in the evenings......their teacher's UNION probably forbids it. LOL Good ol' unions. If they had their student's good will at heart they would do it....

-- Posted by Proud of My Country on Thu, Jan 31, 2013, at 9:27 PM

when is school not a social issue???? do they not have school functions such as sports and dances and clubs like SADD and FFA.... so what kind of school board did we vote ourselves in this time....those are social issues mr board member you better learn it now or resign

-- Posted by brazil citizen on Fri, Feb 1, 2013, at 2:55 AM

@brazil citizen.... Your idea of "social" is different from the "social" the board member referred to. Your definition of "social" is with regard to group activities or being social. The "social" that "Mr. Board Member" was referring to is: A matter which directly or indirectly affect a person or many members of a society and are considered to be problems.

Perhaps we should've started a balanced calendar years ago.....huh?

-- Posted by always skeptical on Sat, Feb 2, 2013, at 1:15 AM

Also, while it is unfortunate that children in all communities go hungry due to lack of parental care, there are other points to be made.

1) To the people who are riding the child hunger train....it is a nice, fallacious attempt to detract from the real topic. Whether the children go hungry for 10 weeks in the summer or 8 weeks in the summer plus 1 extra week in the fall and 1 extra week in the spring.....it is unfortunate, but it is comparing apples to apples.

2) The same can be said for the child care argument. 10 weeks in the summer they use some form of child care (unless they take 10 weeks off from work each summer) or 8 weeks in the summer plus 1 week in fall & spring....once again, comparing apples to apples.

3) Mr. Scherb made it a point to say (at least 6 times) that he thinks August 1st is too early to start school. Rather than repeat the same statement over & over, how about you come up with a SOLUTION?

4) There is no possible way to please everybody, but the important point is KNOWLEDGE RETENTION & OUR CHILDREN'S EDUCATION.......not vacation, child care or child hunger. Dragging our feet will get us nowhere. Implement the Balanced Calendar for the 2013-14 school year & (dare I say) "tweak" in the coming years as needed.

-- Posted by always skeptical on Sat, Feb 2, 2013, at 3:24 AM

Maybe this is just the push we need to implement a charter school in the area, and finally have some real choice in Clay County.

-- Posted by 1a2b3c4d on Sat, Feb 2, 2013, at 8:10 AM

I guess all the complaints revolve around the convenience of the parents being able to get off work and find adequate baby sitting. That is pathetic. The school board needs to take into consideration the students NOT the parents that utilize "school" as a day care system. THAT is why they are in their positions, to represent the students not the parents.

-- Posted by Unsolicitedtidbits on Sat, Feb 2, 2013, at 11:09 AM

I say get it done ASAP. This will assist greatly in the success rate of our students. This will also allow for more flexible days off and not as a big deal when we have 2 hour delays and snow days.

-- Posted by Unsolicitedtidbits on Sat, Feb 2, 2013, at 11:11 AM

I would like to know why ALL Clay Community School parents were NOT informed of this. My step-daughters mother did not know about this plan UNTIL W.T.H.I did their news cast about it, I had assumed that since it involved ALL Clay Community Schools that ALL parents/students would be informed. My step-daughter NOR her mother were sent home the first survey about it and only found out about the second survey when I had informed her. I don't see how 71% of parents were FOR a Balanced Calender when a LOT of the parents I have spoken with (with a child(ren) in Clay Community Schools) have not even heard about it, let alone received ANYTHING about a survey.

-- Posted by jlc on Wed, Feb 6, 2013, at 1:44 PM

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