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Saturday, January 07, 2006

Gitcher traditional calendars here!

by Donald Sensing | Link to this post

For links to seven different traditional calendars we have devised for the 2006-2007 school year, scroll to the end of this post. For the background of their importance, keep reading.

Bryce Inman has eloquently explained the "Lost in Translation" problem of the School Board's attempts to give guidance to deputy schools director Dr. David Heath for more calendar options to consider at the Jan. 17 meeting. Writes Bryce,
... somewhere in the muddle of numbers and options their words got lost in the translation and instead they were bewitched into thinking that August 7 is their only option.
The insistence of Aug. 7 as the only possible start date for a traditional calendar was made several times by Dr. Heath.

Well, we warned on Dec. 16 to beware of "calendar creep":
A county resident has informed us a few days ago that her School Board member emailed her in response to a query that there may be a "compromise" calendar for the Board to consider. It would feature one full week of fall break and one week of spring break, but would start on Aug. 7 or 8.
It seems we were watching the creeping live and in person at the Jan. 5 work session. We also pointed out last month that the Central Office admitted there was a traditional calendar being devised but Dr. Heath said at the time it would not be released to the public. And no one has seen it yet, including the School Board. So, we observed,
What odds will you give that if the phantom traditional calendar ever comes to light, it will really be a "compromise" calendar with school beginning earlier than ever, by a week or more?

Be on the lookout for "calendar creep," losing summer days in small chunks until we find ourselves with a year-round calendar and wonder how we got there.
Nothing we've seen of the calendar process to date makes us change our minds about what might be coming.

We posted a draft of a traditional calendar in mid-December. It is here.

Since then, Dr. David Carleton has put together six other traditional calendars: (MS Word and HTML formats linked below):
1. Close duplicate of '05-'06 calendar - Word and HTML.

2. With three-day fall break - Word and HTML.

3. With a week-long fall break - Word and HTML.

4. With week-long Thanksgiving break - Word and HTML.

5. With several mini-breaks - Word and HTML.

6. Both a fall break and a week-long Thanksgiving break - Word and HTML.
All these version have at least 86 class days, the number used by Dr. Heath on Jan. 5. All start on Monday, Aug. 14. All complete the fall term, including exams, before the winter break.

Note that Dr. Carleton's calendars include only the fall semester. There was agreement all around at the work session that the spring semester was much easier to configure than the fall term. Even under the proposed YR calendar the spring term ends in May. But we've not been very concerned about the end of the school year under the YR calendar; it's the beginning date of it that we oppose.

So what's the problem? None we can see. We report, you decide. By the way, you can email all 12 School Board members at one time by using the email address schoolboard@wcscalendar.com

12 Comments:

Anonymous said...

Great job on these calendars! When Ms. Weller sees this, she should really wonder what Dr. Heath was talking about.

1/07/2006 11:41 AM  
amyc said...

I like the outline of all of the calendars that have been presented. I am most fond of Mr. Inman's calendar that he proposed in December. However, I have a question as to why the proposed Fall breaks in all calendars are on Monday-Wednesday? Is there a purpose for these specific days? Would it be better for it to be Wednesday- Friday so that the children are out for a long weekend? Just wondering as to why. Being a teacher of elementary school age children, I personally would prefer that Wednesday-Friday be the dates so that I can at least have two days that the children are more attentive, instead of trying to get them back on a Thursday and Friday after being out that Monday-Wednesday. The earlier in the week, the children tend to be more on task vs. later in the week.

I personally don't care to start before the 14th of August and wouldn't mind adding a week to the end of school.We have 10 built-in snow days. Could we not move a few around for teacher inservices? We never seem to use all of them anyway? This would still put us out by the end of May and not into June. I can remember when school didn't start until after Labor Day and we were out of school the last week of May. The days keep getting chipped away. To me, this is sad that children lose such a wonderful time in their lives. It is called childhood. We are trying so hard to make them grow up way too fast! Let kids be kids and enjoy it!
This is just a personal opinion and I am only speaking for myself.
I do like the calendars though! Great Job Dr. Carleton! A BIG THANKS to all that have worked so hard on this site.

1/07/2006 9:56 PM  
Bryce Inman said...

Amyc,

There's nothing "magical" about the calendar I put together. I configured this calendar very early in the debate simply as a quick experiment to show that there was, in fact, a way that school could begin on August 14 AND accommodate those who are intereseted in a Fall break. The only reason I chose a Monday-Wednesday break was because it seemed to be an easier way to split the first and second nine weeks. To my way of thinking, I thought it might not make much difference whether the "short" week came before or after the 5-day Fall break.

Dr. Carleton constructed his calendars after a lot more information was available, so his options may be more valid than mine. Whatever the case, we've certainly demonstrated that there are a number of ways that we can begin school on August 14 while still being sesitive to those who are wanting a break of some sort in the Fall . . . a nice compromise that let's everybody win on this issue.

Bryce

1/08/2006 9:04 AM  
Anonymous said...

As a parent with three school age children who moved here from Ohio I am baffled at how complicated this calendar issue is. In Ohio our kids started school around Aug. 26th (give or take a day based on the year) and they got out of school around May 26th. If you go to any of the school websites in our area they already have the calendar posted for the next two sometimes three years because it doesn't change except for how the days fall in the calendar year. We had no fall break, two days for Thanksgiving, approx. 2 weeks for Christmas, Martin Luther King Day, Presidents Day and two days plus the weekend for Easter. We had no foccus days, but there was 1 day off at the elementary level for teacher conference. And may I add, we had many snow days. This is the same calendar the schools have used for as long as both my husband and I know and it works. Our kids liked it much better. And academically we have found the schools here in most areas to be significantly behind those of our schools in Ohio. No amount of games with the calendar will fix that problem. It sure seems like a lot of time and energy is being wasted on something that will have absolutely no academic value.

1/08/2006 9:45 AM  
amyc said...

Thanks for the response Mr. Inman. I wasn't sure what, if any significance, they had.

Personlally speaking, I don't need a break from teaching on October. We have just begun the year and the children are on a roll with learning.To have to stop this roll and start again after a break only causes more review time for both the students and teachers. If there is to be a break, then Thanksgiving would be a good time to have one.

In defense of focus days, we as teachers get much needed new material from the presenters that speak to our faculty on these days. It provides us with the opportunity to plan for material that we need to be teaching the children. These days do not go unwasted at our school. However, could there be fewer? Yes, possibly. This is only my view on this issue and I can not speak for others,but so know that there are others who feel this way.

I am in total agreement with anonymous' comments about the dates that we need off during the school year with the exception of spring break. Did your school system that you came from have a spring break? Did they plan spring break around Easter? We typically have spring break for a week and then Good Friday off.
The whole reason that this website is here, is because there are some who felt that changing the calendar to a blanced one, would be a nifty,trendy idea. The traditional calendar, as in years past, has much academic value. You are correct when you say that this new proposed calendar, has absolutely no academic value or benefit.

1/08/2006 1:31 PM  
Anonymous said...

Our school and all of the other schools around us in Ohio only have the 4 days at Easter, no spring break. And as I stated, our kids were much happier with the schedule. Please also note that this years schedule does not give us off Good Friday in Williamson County, nor does the puroposed calendar give Good Friday off.

1/08/2006 5:30 PM  
Anonymous said...

I think that the parent from Ohio has a valid point regarding all of these breaks. I can only speak for my childrens elementary school, but the couple of days before ANY break are unproductive. I see "read in" days where the teachers and kids get a break before the break!! It gets out of hand. If we have even more breaks then I'm sure even more unproductive days will result. I grew up in Ohio also, and don't recall being so worn out that I needed to be "refreshed" with a week or two of vacation every 2 months! I personally think it disrupts the momentum of learning. If you look at the current calendar there are so many weeks where the students do not go a full week due to admin or Focus days. It's just like a job. It's more productive to have a large chunk of uninterrupted time than to have your time split up with interruptions and then try to get back the focus to complete the job.
Just my opinion.

1/09/2006 9:53 AM  
prufrockjr said...

I noticed this comment from Dr. Sharber on Becky Pair's summary of the School Board's work session:

"Just received request from high school principals...they want to eliminate focus days in favor of late start Thursdays."

Wouldn't we ALL like to have a few days each year when we don't have to show up for work until later in the day? What is the point of late start Thursdays? Does that mean the teachers show up on time and only the students come late? What is the point?

1/09/2006 11:55 AM  
Anonymous said...

I'm looking for a true traditional calendar. Why isn't anyone proposing starting around Sept. 1 when it's cooler. It would be easy to calculate that such a calendar would save the schools on utility costs. Why do we get out so early in May? It's just beginning to get warm, pools are cold, the kids can't begin to enjoy all their summer interests. Why not look at that alternative?

1/09/2006 12:10 PM  
Anonymous said...

I'm not exactly sure what "late Thursday" would mean if adopted system wide, but some time back I read that one of the high schools would test a "late" day instead of the early dismissal "focus days". The most outrageous part of the plan was that buses would continue to run on the regular schedule. The Central Office reported that there would be some supervision in the gym of students who had to arrive on time by bus. At the time I thought that took the prize for most ridiculous plan ever (of course, that was before I had ever heard of the "balanced calendar" proposal).

1/09/2006 12:19 PM  
Anonymous said...

I believe Ravenwood is doing "late Mondays". What happened to everything being done as a district???

1/09/2006 1:37 PM  
Anonymous said...

Yes I think I have heard RHS has "late Mondays" I think that parent's are supervising the gym. I also find it very odd!

1/09/2006 8:12 PM  

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