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SH opts for balanced calendar

It was just a matter of time.
By a unanimous, 7-0 vote last Tuesday, the South Harrison Community School Corp. Board of Trustees elected to convert to a balanced calendar schedule for the 2013-14 school year. In February, the same board tabled a switch to a balanced calendar for the 2012-13 school year.
Already used by Lanesville Community School Corp., basically the calendar shortens the summer break in exchange for offering an extra week of vacation at the end of each nine-weeks grading period. Students will still attend school the state-mandated 180 days.
Whereas this year’s school year started Aug. 9 and ends May 23, next year school will start Aug. 1 and end June 4 (pending make-up days). Next year’s calendar includes two-week breaks Oct. 7 through 18 and Dec. 23 through Jan. 3, with spring break being March 24 through 28, with possible snow make-up days April 1 through 4. If there are no days to make up, school will be out of session.
Not all students will get to take the full weeks off, however. Though details have yet to be ironed out, South Harrison will offer intersession for approximately one-half day, which is a similar model used by Lanesville and other school systems, SHCSC Supt. Dr. Neyland Clark said.
‘The only thing that I have stated is that the instruction will be very focused and targeted to students need,’ Clark said. ‘This will most likely require that teachers teaching during these sessions receive additional professional development.’
The selection of students who need to take part in intersession will be determined by teacher recommendations, ISTEP and Acuity test scores and parent requests.
Prior to the vote, Clark read to the board some concerns made from the athletic departments.
‘Fall coaches will have no pre-season practice time before school starts, there will be decreased gate revenue when competitions occur when school is out (Friday night football games), transportation issues in securing drivers, the athletic secretary will need to adjust scheduling due to (state) tournaments, no breaks for teacher-coaches or athletes, spring sports begin competition during the two-week spring break period, coaches have attendance policies and will not play athletes who miss practice in games and some students will not come out for teams because of family vacation commitments,’ Clark read.
When Lanesville adopted a balanced calendar in 2003, teachers in the school system were polled and 84 percent favored the switch. At South Harrison, most ‘ but not all ‘ teachers favored the switch to a balanced calendar, Cherie Hofmann, president of the South Harrison Educators Association, said.
Last year, two calendars (balanced and traditional) were brought before the teachers, who voted on which they preferred (balanced). This year, only the balanced calendar was brought before the teachers, who were given an opportunity to air their concerns.
Those against the change cited similar athletic concerns that Clark brought up prior to the vote.
The switch was made in large part because of a change to a balanced calendar by the New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated School Corp., which is the local education agency for Prosser Career Education Center in New Albany. A total of 155 students from Corydon Central and South Central Junior-Senior high schools attend Prosser.
‘While I have appreciation for the coaches and the participants in our sports programs … I have to tell you, academically, I’m very concerned about the kids that are in the Prosser program. And I’m going to be more concerned because I believe that under our next governor, vocational and industrial technical education is going to be a major thrust in the next administration and this will become an even bigger issue,’ Clark said.
Clark said a study by Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis was inconclusive on whether or not a balanced calendar was beneficial for students.
Megan Bates Apple, a 2006 graduate of Corydon Central, teaches at Rock Creek Community Academy in Sellersburg. She’s a supporter of the format, which is also used at her school.
‘Basically, if a child fails a class, has poor attendance or is low academically, they have to go (to intersession) three hours per day the first week. Everyone is off the second week,’ Apple said. ‘We still get a summer. It’s only about seven days shorter.’
With the other two school systems in Harrison County now on a balanced calendar, John Thomas, superintendent of the North Harrison Community School Corp., said a calendar committee has been set up and discussed possible options last week. He stopped short, however, of committing North Harrison to any change.
‘Any move to a balanced calendar would have to be approved by the school board, but we’ll probably have to consider the modification of our calendar because of Prosser,’ he said.
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