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Lanesville may try year-round school

Year-round school may be just a semester away at the Lanesville Community School Corp.
High school principal Tim Bridges and Supt. Phil Partenheimer have met with faculty, staff and the corporation board to discuss the merits of the “balanced calendar” that may be in effect as soon as the next academic year.
Bridges and Partenheimer refer to the schedule as a balanced calendar because they say the term “year-round school” is misleading and gives the impression that students will attend school every day.
The new schedule will include 180 school days, the same number as the traditional academic year, but those days will be evenly distributed throughout the calendar year. Because the number of school days would not change, expenses would also be unchanged.
No major conflicts are expected where athletics are concerned, Bridges said. He likened games that occur during vacation to those that are currently scheduled on weekends.
The proposed schedule would include a two-week vacation at the end of each nine-week grading period as opposed to the current summer vacation plus fall, spring and winter breaks. The first week of each vacation could be used for remedial courses for students who fail to pass standardized testing.
Students in need of remediation beginning in kindergarten could receive as many as 52 weeks of additional instruction before high school graduation – the equivalent of two additional academic years without having to repeat a grade.
The federal No Child Left Behind Act calls for schools to have 100 percent of students passing minimum standards by the 2013-2014 school year, Partenheimer said, adding, “Clearly, the issue becomes remediating kids that are at risk of failure to meet these minimum competencies or standards.”
Sophomores must pass the Graduation Qualifying Exam or receive a waiver as a requirement for graduation. The additional week of focused review would be part of the waiver process. In addition, the administrators plan for students to be able to use remedial class time to avoid failing a course.
Initially, the remedial course work would emphasize language arts and math. Remedial classes would be divided into blocks with kindergarten having its own class and some grades, like four through six, sharing a classroom. One teacher, and sometimes an aide, would be present in each block.
In February, focus groups will meet with parents as the administrators appeal to “stakeholders” for support.
At the Bardstown Community School Corp. in Kentucky, 57 percent of stakeholders supported the change to a balanced calendar, according to a survey conducted by the corporation. After seven years with the new system, 97 percent approved.
“You’ve got education issues versus personal issues,” Partenheimer said. “So far we haven’t heard any compelling personal issues that will keep us from doing this.”
Bridges researched the balanced calendar and found that schools reported a decreased dropout rate and improved attendance, discipline and graduation rate after the transition.
“We think it just makes sense,” Bridges said. “We base our (present) educational system on the agrarian society back at the turn of the century.”
“Most parents work year-round, and it no longer becomes an issue of accommodating farm life,” Partenheimer said. “We now have schools air-conditioned as well as heated year-round. Our costs are stable year-round.”
The school board supports the balanced calendar, Bridges said.