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Watch this space for information about and from grassroots groups around the country that are committed to saving summers for schoolchildren. Currently posted:

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The Whetstone Report: 
The Case Against Calendar Change for High Schools-a 50-page report (below)

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Grassroots Efforts Pay Off
Highlights of effective efforts to stop school calendar change by grassroots groups around the country. (Incomplete; coming soon)

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Grassroots Web Sites
Links to some web sites  launched by groups who support the traditional school calendar and oppose school calendar change 
(listed below)

If you would like information posted about your grassroots group, please e-mail your name, address and phone number to: bussardre@aol.com.

Page updated August 15, 2001

The Whetstone Report
August 9, 2001 

The following  report is an excellent  model  for grassroots groups to use as a guide in framing their own arguments in support of the traditional school calendar and in opposition to school calendar reform fads. It contains some of the latest research available and covers many bases in the argument against school calendar change.

While this report focuses on problems of the year-round calendar for high schools, much of  the research, academic reviews and other data cited relates as well to the detriments of a reconfigured school year  for elementary  and middle school students. Health and safety concerns raised in this report should be of particular concern to parents or anyone who would be forced to work in a hot school building in the summer. (See 5.7 Negative Environmental Effects on Learning)

The authors of  this powerful report were part of a loose knit group in a Columbus, Ohio, suburb  that met in May over their common concern that  primarily advocacy  information  had been provided in a presentation recommending Whetstone High School  convert to a year-round scheule. The report was presented by  to the school superintendent on August 9, 2001.

Maintaining the Conventional School Calendar at WHS ----

A Research Effort by a Citizens Group

  Issue 1.0 August  9th, 2001.

Coordinating Editors:  Brian Brown  and Joan Frederick

Contributors, Authors, Reviewers, and Researchers

Brian Brown
Joan Frederick
Jane Leemhuis
Becky Brown
Debbie Britton
Steve Britton

Executive Summary ...........................................................................................
1 Introduction ...............................................................................................
1.1 History of Year-round Schools ...............................................................
2. Year-Round School - The Big Picture ...................................................
2.1. Definitions and Types Of Year-Round School ......................................
2.2. NAYRE .....................................................................................................
2.3 The Current Educational Environment at WHS and CPS ...................
2.4 Balanced Calendar Initiative At Whetstone High School.....................
2.5. The Balance Calendar Proposal............................................................
2.6. The Grass Roots Citizens' Effort............................................................
3. Year-Round Schools Locally...................................................................
3.1. Second Avenue........................................................................................
3.2. Hilliard Schools........................................................................................
3.3. Olentangy Schools, and Gahanna-Jefferson ........................................
3.4. Westerville City Schools Schools ..........................................................
3.5. Worthington Schools ...............................................................................
3.6. Upper Arlington ........................................................................................
3.7. Pickerington .............................................................................................
3.8. Southwestern City Schools.....................................................................
3.9. Franklin County Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities (MRDD)
4. Year-Round Schools Nationally .............................................................
4.1 Key State-By-State Facts .......................................................................
4.2 The Sluggish Growth Rate Of Year-Round Schools ............................
4.3 Tried and Rejected List - A National Perspective ...............................
5. Research Results ............................................................................
5.1 Summer Learning Loss Theory has Many Unanswered Questions, But Little Basis in Fact
5.2  No Concrete proof of Academic Achievement At YRS ......................
5.3 Claims of Reduced Absenteeism Are Questionable ..........................
5.4 YRS At Whetstone Puts Undue Hardship on Students Who Attend Other Schools 
5.5 No Benefits for WHS Special Needs Students ...................................
5.6 Balanced Calendar Ignores Learning Outside of the Classroom
and Promotes the Idea That Only the School Knows What Is Best For Our Children
5.7 Negative Environmental Effects on Learning in the Proposed WHS Environment
5.8. Negative Effects on Non-Custodial Parents .........................................
5.9 Implementing YRS at Whetstone Will Mean Significant 
Start-Up costs and Increased Operating Costs ...................................
5.10 Community and Businesses Would Be Adversely Impacted ............
5.11 There Are Many Alternatives to Year-Round School
(Best Educational Practices) .................................................................
5.12 The WHS Exploratory Process Was Weak .........................................
6. The Risk of YRS at Whetstone Outweigh Any Claimed Benefits .......
6.1 YRS Divides Communities .....................................................................
6.2 YRS Puts Student Summer Incomes At Risk........................................
6.3 YRS Puts the Entire Community At Risk ...............................................
6.4 Year-Round School May Promote Inequality.........................................
7. Looking Ahead ........................................................................................
7.1. Feasibility Study ......................................................................................
7.2. Petition Effort ...........................................................................................
7.3. Media ........................................................................................................
8. Conclusions .............................................................................................
9. Personal Position Statements ...............................................................
10. Appendixes ..............................................................................................
11. Bibliography .............................................................................................


Executive Summary
The arguments for and against year round school comes from all walks of life, none more telling, though, than that from the President of the National Education Association. NEA President Bob Chase in his column on the NEA web site entitle "The Summer Parent" who supports the idea that kids need to be kids:

For summer to be intellectually stimulating, it need not be, and indeed must not be, regimented.  It is a child's right to be a child, and to enjoy the pleasures of a childhood summer.  That can't happen if every hour of your child's day is scheduled. While no one wants his or her child slumped in front of the TV for hours on end, neither do you want to make it a summer of stress.  

For the authors, that quote comes at no more an appropriate time than during the current debate on implementing year-round school at Whetstone High School.  Most of us began this journey with that exact sentiment and the disruption we see by year-round school.  We then set out to discover for ourselves if what the WHS administrators said had basis in fact.  

What we found out was that it had little basis in fact and in our view it was another education gimmick.  Herein this document are a number of Research Results that support our contention that there is no valid reason to move WHS, or any other Columbus Public School for that matter, away from the conventional calendar.  While some within the group have differing approaches, we all are headed in the common direction to keeping WHS on the conventional calendar.

In summary our major research results, supported by well-known experts, show that :

bulletSummer Learning Loss is a fallacy.  Experts in the field of memory retention suggest that most forgetting takes place in the first 4-7 days after new material is taught.  Research further shows little difference in forgetting between weeks 2 and 10.   Others researchers suggest there is little difference in forgetting between 4 weeks and 10 weeks.
bulletNo academic improvement associated with YRS.   Study after study suggests that contrary to proponent's claims, there is no improvement, as noted in a 345,000 student study in North Carolina, the largest ever on year-round education. Phi Delta Kappa stated "Despite the claims that long summer vacations lead to lessened achievement, year-round schools are not associated with great leaps in academic achievement. Also to be noted is that a list of 1998 NAEP (National Assessment for Education Progress) test scores in an Education Week special report (2001) shows California ranks fifth from the bottom in eighth-grade reading. California is the leading state when it comes to having year-round schools.
bulletStudent Absenteeism does not improve. In fact, the research shows, some schools abandoned the YRS concept because of poor attendance, which can affect per pupil funding. 
bulletYRS will put undue hardships on students.  The YRS schedule will cause all sorts of problems for family schedules, summer jobs, camps of all kinds.  Activities in late July and August will be missed.  Income will be adversely affected since some employers will not hire kids for only a few weeks. Students who attend alternative schools but come back to Whetstone for other activities will be living a jumbled school schedule, being on a conventional school schedule sometimes and a year-round schedule at other times.
bulletNo benefits for WHS special needs students. However, there is absolutely no research to say one way or the other.  However, logic suggests and many parents with special needs students agree that for students with learning disabilities and Attention Deficit Disorder YRS would be of no benefit because of the constant stopping and starting of classes.
bulletProponents of Balanced Calendar ignore any summer-time learning that goes on outside the classroom.   In fact, researchers suggest that for one, informal reading is a much better way to build vocabulary than the traditional vocabulary drills and that money spent to put books in low income neighborhoods might be a better investment.  Moreover, one study suggests that children who have the opportunity to do things during the summer improve on tests of some subjects and return better off than when they left in the spring. 
bulletThe YRS proposal at WHS raises questions about how much learning will go on amidst heat, humidity and noise.  Large "air-craft" fans will make for noisy classrooms and combined with heat and humidity make for an environment where students are likely to sleep.  Studies also suggest that temperatures adversely affect learning in the mid 70's and above.  Air-conditioning is not part of the plan.  Yet WHS administration offices are air-conditioned today. 
bulletOther major research shows a host of alternatives to YRS that have a proven track record.  There are issues for non-custodial parents that may force some to incur legal fees and go back to court to change summer visitation agreements. Other significant results include large start-up costs, adverse affects on the community and business as a whole. 
bulletThe final result concludes that even by standards of a year-round school proponent, the WHS effort was weak at best, and some suggest flawed.   Wide community involvement is a major requirement and research shows that one district required 80% parental support.  Another of the schools required a 100% survey return rate from parents before opposition or support percents could be completed.  

The report also covers local and national year round school efforts and discusses how many schools have tried but come back to the conventional calendar.  In conclusion:

  1. We urge CPS officials to stop all efforts to convert WHS to a year round school.

  2. To include some of us on your feasibility study panel.

  3. Include us in other group efforts where identified problems need workable cost-effective solutions with less radical impact and broad community support.
                

1.   Introduction

  It has been proposed that Whetstone High School move from the conventional school calendar year to an alternative calendar school year format beginning in the 2002-03 school year.  Summer vacation, as most know it, would be a thing of the past.

The initiators of this proposal submit they have investigated the concept and cite numerous advantages over the current conventional calendar. These proponents have embarked down the road toward implementation by taking votes of the school staff and student body. Additionally they have held, and scheduled, public presentations with certain parent and community interest groups seeking support for their proposal.

Many parents and community members remained unconvinced, citing many unanswered questions, and finding that a large body of information and evidence exist which runs counter to the proponents alleged advantages of an alternative calendar.

The authors of this report view this year-round school (YRS) proposal as a radical alteration of the current conventional calendar.    The same authors and others became alarmed at the speed at which this "exploration" was heading toward implementation, despite a lack of community understanding of the issue and a true consensus. 

As a result, several members of the community formed a loosely structured group to investigate both the concept and the WHS Exploratory Committee process. The intent was to provide balanced information to the community at large, to invite active involvement in the public discussion of this issue and to stop the implementation at WHS if the investigation yielded no positive data. This report is a result of that search.  While it does not cover all issues, it attempts to cover major issues and research results about YRS and its impact on Whetstone and other schools in general.

In July 2001, Dr. Gene Harris, the new superintendent of Columbus Public Schools, halted further public presentations by the proponents, until a feasibility study, at her direction could be conducted.  

1.1.  History of Year-round Schools

Year-round schooling has a long history in the United States, dating back to the 1800s, when it was used sporadically in northern industrial cities in an attempt to address the English language instruction needs of the children of immigrants.

By the turn of the century, it was being embraced as an answer for many of the same problems that plague schools today: overcrowding, funding shortages and improving the education process.

But the year-round school movement also has a long history of failure. Research on the year-round calendar by The National Education Association in a report released in 1958 found that every school system that had attempted a 12-month calendar up to that point eventually abandoned it. The reasons communities dumped it back then are the same reasons they dump year-round school today: Year-round schooling is disruptive to family life, provides little or no academic benefit and saves schools little or no money--and can even cost much more.

The revival of the year-round school movement in the late 1960s is a result of several dynamics at work in the post-World War II era. The baby boom sparked a demand for more school construction; meanwhile, the space race with Russia fueled yet another debate about the quality of American education.  Around the same time, state, county and local governments were wrestling with ways to pay for the new school construction demands of rapidly growing suburban communities.

The national media reports about the use of a year-round calendar to relieve overcrowding in the suburbs of Valley View School District 96, near Chicago, sparked a wave of interest in the year-round school concept in the early 1970s.  The Valley View School District, which includes Romeoville and Bolingbrook, grew from 89 students to nearly 5,000 in 15 years and was the first in the country to place the entire school district on a rotating school calendar (multi-track).

The media attention given Valley View resulted in consulting jobs in other school districts for Kenneth L. Hermansen, the school superintendent and his assistant school superintendent, James Gove. They would be instrumental in the formation of the National Council on Year-Round Education, forerunner organization of the National Association FOR Year-Round Education, the advocacy group that markets the year-round school concept to school districts today.

There were other pilot programs under way in other areas of the county at that same time, prompted in some cases by demands of businesses for more skilled workers to run industrial equipment. This equipment made it increasingly more difficult to rely on unskilled laborers to fill in for workers who took vacations during summer when their children were out of school and the weather was nice.  

In summary, YRS is not a new idea and after 100 years of experimenting, there still is no proof of its benefits --academic or financial--and there is growing evidence that sending kids to school in the heat of summer may actually deter learning.   (Source for the History:  Billee Bussard, Author SummerMatters.com and Lessons Learned the Hard Way.)

2.   Year-Round School - The Big Picture

     2.1.      Definitions and Types Of Year-Round School

YRS has the benefit of name to be inferred as a positive program since most people infer from the name that school will be taught every day of the year and more of anything in our society is presumed to be better. In fact this is not true, and in most cases discovering this single fact opens the inquiries as to what exactly is YRS.

YRS is known by many names.  It is Year-round School, Alternative Calendar, Extended School Year, Modified School Year, Continuous Learning Calendar, Education For All Seasons, the Balanced Calendar, Flexible Scheduling, and the Remedial Calendar. All of these are terms used to describe what essentially is a year-round school calendar.   In most cases, the YRS calendar adds no more days; rather it shuffles the current 180-day schedule so that students have 9-week sessions followed by three-week breaks; it shortens the summer vacation to 5 weeks. 

2.2.      NAYRE

National Association for Year-Round Education (NAYRE) is a non-profit organization founded in part by Dr. Charles Ballinger, and is based out of San Diego, California. This group openly submits they are a national advocacy group for year-round education and a clearinghouse for information supporting year-round education. They promote and sell reports, studies, and information supporting the YRS concept. They also provide for fee services that link prospective year-round districts and schools with consultants who can guide them in exploration and implementation of YRS. Some of the consultants are school administrators who have first hand experience implementing YRS. For instance, Mildred Sexton, Principal, Spratley Middle School, Danville Virginia is listed on the NAYRE website as a paid consultant. (See http://www.nayre.org/consulting.html) NAYRE also holds an annual convention to promote the YRS cause and to provide a path to market for vendors of various services and products, some of which are entertainment and amusement parks. (See http://www.nayre.org/conference.html#directory).

It is interesting to note that the 2002 convention to be held in San Diego February 9 - 13, 2002 is not an expected intercession period.

2.3.   The Current Educational Environment 
    at WHS and CPS
   

Contrary to what the proponents of YRS at Whetstone say, the current educational environment at the school does not warrant such a radical change as YRS.   While Columbus Public Schools continues to labor under the dark cloud of academic emergency, Whetstone High School has thrived under two recent district initiatives. First, the return to community schools, which has re-engaged a vibrant surrounding community and returned significant numbers of community families from the private schooling sector. Second, Open Enrollment has insured social, economic, and cultural diversity of the student body which is so critical to the educational experience.  The result of these changes contributed to more WHS seniors passing the 12th grade proficiency than students at either CAHS or Fort Hayes. The WHS newsletter reveals page after page of honor roll students.

Today WHS has just over 1000 students when a few short years ago enrollment was a bit over 500 and it was on the list of schools to be closed.  Just recently a Dispatch article noted that Whetstone's graduation rate was one of the top four in the District. 

2.4.  Balanced Calendar Initiative 
   At Whetstone High School

Whetstone Exploratory Committee lead by Mr. James "Skip" Thomas, principal of WHS, initiated an investigation into the YRS concept and possible implementation at WHS as a result of issues discussed in the CPS Reform Panel. Mr. Thomas is a member of that panel. The committee consists of WHS administrative staff, teachers, and two people serving as parent members. WHS administration quietly explored the YRS option and discussed briefly with PTA representatives and school staff, but neglected to mention to incoming freshman that the concept was being considered.  All families were given a one-week notice for the first public meeting, which occurred after open enrollment closed.  At the June 11th community meeting, Mr. Thomas confirmed that the committee had also investigated additional programs to enhance academics.  They included 3-block, 4x4, AB Block and Trimesters.  However, no details were provided about the results of the administrations studies. 

Of particular interest is how incongruent the WHS administration's position appears.  The WHS administration touts the success of WHS in newsletters, on the web, at academic awards banquets, sports banquets, music concerts and are nearly silent about YRS proposal. Then, within days of one of those events, it was announced that YRS may be implemented at WHS and that things are worse at WHS than we were lead to believe and that YRS is the only solution.

2.5.   The Balance Calendar Proposal

The committee presented the year-round school idea to parents as the "Balanced Calendar".  The term "Modified Calendar" was also used.   More specifically it is a 45-15 calendar, within a single-track attendance system. Between each quarter would be a three-week "intersession" period. During the first two weeks of each intersession period classes would be held for remediation and enrichment, and the last week as a vacation week for all students and teachers. The school year would begin about the third week of July and end about the first week of June.   In some form the winter and spring break would continue to exist, but summer vacation, as the vast majority knows it, would be lost.  The earliest YRS could be implemented at WHS was planned to be during the 2002-2003 school year. A decision for that school year was needed by December 2001, according to the WHS administrators

All students attending Whetstone would be moved to this new calendar, including the handicapped and special needs students. Students would still be required to attend the same number of school days (180). Attendance at intersessions would not be mandatory, but some students might be encouraged to attend for remediation or enrichment.

Funding and costs for this calendar have not been determined and students might be charged a fee for attending intersessions. Principal James Thomas has been quoted in the media that as many as one hundred and fifty (150) students might attend intersessions.

2.5.1.      The Proposed Benefits

  The committee reports a host of YRS benefits on the Whetstone High School web site. On their FAQ page are the responses to the question of "What are the actual benefits of a balanced calendar?".  They state that a balanced calendar reduces summer learning loss, and it eliminates the need to "re-teach" as much material each fall. They claim that the intersessions built into a balanced calendar provide opportunities for more immediate academic intervention for students in need, as well as allowing time for enrichment opportunities for students who don't need remediation. It is also claimed that because the school year includes several breaks, attendance among students and teachers is better than with a traditional calendar. Furthermore, the proponents say that students and staff return from intersessions refreshed and enthusiastic. There are fewer serious discipline referrals, less student vandalism, and a lower dropout rate -- improvements, which benefit all students as well as the community at large. The intersessions allow teachers and students an opportunity to start each nine weeks refreshed and focused.

2.6.   The Grass Roots Citizens' Effort

A loosely organized group of local parents and community members, began in May 2001, mounted their own investigation and research effort. Their findings convinced them the interests of the students, parents, district, and community were best served by remaining on the conventional calendar, and they have organized an informational campaign and petition drive to support remaining on the conventional calendar.  In response to the Exploratory Committee's FAQ,  this group has come up with its own FAQ entitled, We Say - They Claim.  It is include in the appendix. The group is called WhetstonePays, People Against Year Round School.  While there are differences in the group about how motives and how to fight the year-round school effort, we all are committed to maintaining the current calendar, and perhaps stopping other communities from having to fight this same misguided effort.

3.   Year-Round Schools Locally

Locally, the lists of schools that have considered year-round schools far out number those that have implemented it.   Although the authors have not talked with all local school districts, our research shows that Second Avenue is the only school in the Central Ohio Area that has implemented year-round schools.  The list of area schools that have considered but rejected the idea include Hilliard Schools, Olentangy Schools, Westerville City Schools, Upper Arlington Schools, Pickerington Schools, Southwest City Schools and the Franklin County Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities (MRDD).

3.1. Second Avenue

This is the only area school known to be on a year-round school format.   In the school's proposal for Alternative Calendar School, date Dec. 17th, 1998, the report authors site that they were not satisfied with academic performance, and were troubled by summer learning loss, high student absenteeism among other concerns.   They generalize about research supporting their claims, but provide no documented sources in their report.  The report says 98% of the parents surveyed responded favorably, but it lacks any real numerical data as to how many that 98% represents.  The plan also lacks how the school is going to measure success of the program.  For instance, did the school baseline its pre-year-round school population so that an apples to apples comparison can be made?  Do the researchers know how to factor out the affects of having teachers develop new teaching plans from the impact the calendar change has?  All of these questions and more need to be addressed going in so that an accurate measure can be made at appropriate intervals. Costs for the school's conversion are listed to increase with more salary for the secretary and principal.   Estimates of roughly $70,000 are provided for that salary plus a full time position to develop and maintain the program, for additional transportation cost and for food service costs.   Intersession costs are not included in this report. Electric service and air-conditioning estimates "ranged from $500,000 upwards

3.2. Hilliard Schools    

Hilliard Schools considered year-round schools in August of 1996 with the formation of a study group that reported back in April of 1997.   The Executive Summary of the study group's report is found as an Appendix in this report.   While not endorsing the single-track year-round school option, the report ruled out completely the Multi-track year-round school option.  Concerning the single track option, the group recommend its consideration if:

1.      Determination of public interest through surveys. 

2.      Selection of one or more schools for comparative cost analysis.

3.      Determination that this calendar will better serve a significant portion of the community, including the student population; and

4.      Selected through parental choice only.  

The report noted that Community involvement was a high priority during the study. This was encouraged in a variety of ways including flyers sent home with students, invitations to middle and high school students to participate in discussions and meetings; use of local newspapers and involvement of local government, community agencies and area businesses. Several sub-committees were formed to gather information and input from all affected areas.

Most authors of this report note that this was one of the most open and inclusive local and national investigations that we have seen.   The school board even sponsored a visit by a conventional calendar advocate, Dr. James Engelman a superintendent in Hunt, Texas and President of the Traditional Learning for Children Association.

3.3. Olentangy Schools and Gahanna-Jefferson

In 1994, two other area schools looked at year-round schooling.  The Olentangy School district considered year-round school as a solution to "its burgeoning school population," says the 6/11/1994 edition of the Delaware Gazette.  Superintendent Keith Richards was quoted as saying that "Our feeling was it is not as educationally sound as we want (it) to be."  Richards further noted that year-round school is letting the facilities dictate the program and not the program dictate the facilities.  The Gazette article also mention that YRS was being considered at Gahanna-Jefferson, although few references to this effort have been found and local school officials say the system has no year-round  school today. 

3.4. Westerville City Schools

The May 23rd, 1994 edition of the Columbus Dispatch reports that Westerville school system will not initiate YRS on a large scale, but "would consider it as a component in an overall plan to alleviate crowding issues."   There are no Westerville schools on the NAYRE list.   In the Westerville effort, 12,000 surveys were sent to parents and nearly 2400 were returned.   No numbers are given as to how the vote fared.  The report also noted that the multi-track option would offer substantial savings, that students in the same family should be allowed to remain on the same track and that volunteers would be used in a pilot program. 

3.5. Worthington Schools  

Worthington School District Considered year-round school in the form of what was termed a Continuous Learning Calendar.  But on May 4th, 1999, the Worthington Schools issued a press release noting that "Based upon feedback from the community and discussion with individual Board members, it has become evident that there is little support for further study of the Continuous Learning Calendar", said Superintendent Dr. Damon Asbury.  "To continue to plan a pilot CLC site would create unnecessary divisiveness in our community."   Asbury further said, "that the board and the administration did not hear any compelling evidence that a continuous learning calendar would significantly improve student achievement. "

3.6. Upper Arlington

Reports are scant, but Upper Arlington School district began considering YRS in Jan.1996, but there are none today. The Jan. 31 edition of the Upper Arlington News  said the school was looking at longer school days, longer school weeks, and longer school years and that a thorough investigation was to take place.

3.7. Pickerington

Pickerington Schools also looked at year-round school as an option in the late 80's, as a result of several levy failures and in an effort to find solutions for overcrowding:  Per their web site as found on August 5th, 2000, "On 11/8/88, the 19.9-million bond issue for the new high school was again defeated by district voters. The board then began reviewing its options, including split sessions, increasing class sizes and year-round school."  Furthermore, the Pickerington School district also considered the option in 1979, 1990, 1993, and again in 1997 according to a May 5, 1997 story in the Pickerington This Week. We know of no year-round schools in the Pickerington district. 

 

3.8. Southwestern City Schools

A Westside This Week on article from May 8, 1997 notes that the SWCS schools were considering year-round school to deal with a increasing student population and no new levy money to build additional school buildings.  An earlier effort is also reported in the August 5th, 1995  Grove City Southwest Messenger that had SWCS looking at YRS then.  In both instances, the YRS proposals never materialized and the system opted for other alternatives and eventually passed a levy.

3.9. Franklin County Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities (MRDD)

In an April 21, 2000 report, the MRDD board decided that it would not move to a year-round school format.  In their report recommendation section, they say that "The instructional data collected did not support that such a change was necessary nor would it be of great benefit to our students. The reality is that it was not in the best interests of the staff, the majority of whom were non-supportive of this change."  A major find in the report concluded that there is "little or none (referring to YRS research) in relation to the needs of multi-handicapped students …" This report is included as an attachment. 

 

4.   Year-Round Schools Nationally 

2.1. Key State-By-State Facts  

Key states is defined as any state which has schools on a year-round calendar of any type that represents at least one-percent (1%) of NAYRE's published total of 2,939 schools in the fifty states and the District of Columbia for the 2000-2001 school year.

States are listed in descending order by the percentage of their number of year-round schools over the total number of year-round schools in the fifty states and the District of Columbia.

As of the 2000-2001 school year California has 1,550 of the 2,939 year-round schools nationwide, as illustrated in the graph below.

 

Of this total in California, only 40 are general high schools, and the vast majority are elementary schools. Their domination of the national numbers is due to the fact that California state law the requires districts to employ year-round school as a first line of defense for overcrowding. School districts that do not comply risk losing state education funds.  California also has a high English as a second language population, and some empirical data suggest students in the primary grades can benefit in learning the English language in a year-round school environment.

4.2. The Sluggish Growth Rate Of Year-Round Schools

After 100 years of experimenting, the YRS school movement has largely been limited to mostly fast growth states west of the Mississippi that were desperate for a solution to overcrowding.  The majority also have mild winters and multiple seasons conducive to outdoor activities. An analysis by Billee Bussard, editor, SummerMatters.com from data provided by the National Association For Year-Round Education and the North Carolina Department of Education includes the following observation and table:

 

Year-Round Enrollment Growth in Public Schools
as of  school year 2000-2001

     Year-round school enrollment continues to experience sluggish growth nationwide. Six states house nearly 82 percent of all students enrolled in a year-round calendar school, while the rest of the 394,081 students are spread among schools in 38 states.

      While 2,162,120 public school students are claimed to be attending school on a year-round calendar nationwide, nearly 1.8 million of those are concentrated in California, Hawaii, Arizona, Nevada, Texas and North Carolina, all fast-growing states.

     More than half the year-round school enrollment growth of 98,903 in U.S. public schools this year is in three states: California, Hawaii and Nevada. 

     California, which houses more than 62 percent of all the nation’s YR students, has nearly a third of the increase or 32,034 more students on the calendar.

     Two of the five largest year-round states, Arizona and Texas, saw year-round school totals decline by 22,328. Arizona has 13 fewer schools on year-round and Texas has 44 fewer, according to recently published figures by the National Association for Year-Round Education.

 

 

2000-2001

1999-2000

 

National Enrollment  
YR Public Schools

 

 

  Enrollment
Change
In 1 YR

Growth:
3 largest states

 

2,162,120

2,063,217

98,903

53,845

 

 

 

 

(54% of nation’s YR growth)

Top 5 YR Districts

 

 

 

 

California

1,345,522

1,313,488

32,034

32,034

Hawaii

97,981

80,692

17,289

17,289

Arizona

92,072

98,797

(6,725)

 

Nevada

89,229

84,707

4,522

4,522

Texas

78,873

94,476

(15,603)

 

Growth 
5 State Total

  1,703,677

1,672,160

31,517

 

North Carolina

64, 362

NA

NA

 

 

  1,768,038

 

 

 

 

Information was compiled by Billee Bussard, editor, SummerMatters.com from data provided by the National Association For Year-Round Education and the North Carolina Department of Education.

 

4.3. Tried and Rejected List - A National Perspective

  More Rejects than Adoptions

It is estimated by one researcher, Billee Bussard, author of Lessons Learned the Hard Way, that four times as many schools have considered a  year-round calendar and rejected it as have adopted it.  The reject list on http://summermatters.com notes over 350 districts that have consider and rejected or tried and rejected some form of year-round schools.  The reject list has been attached as an appendix.

Private Schools

Year-round schools are rarely used in the private sector. "Why do such a miniscule number of private schools (0.0015%) initiate year-round calendars?" as noted in "Do year-round schools improve student learning? An annotated bibliography and synthesis of the research" By Charlie Naylor, BCTF Research and Technology Division May 1995. .0015% is 15 in a million.

 

5.   Research Results

Authors of this report and other members of the community spent hours sifting through research and talking with others who are familiar with YRS initiatives and reports.  The findings below are a result of that research.  Given the limited resources of a grass roots group, the findings are as complete as time permitted.   As events dictate, these findings and this report may be updated.

5.1. Summer Learning Loss Theory: Little Basis in Fact 

There are a variety of viewpoints concerning learning loss as it relates to year-round school, from one extreme to the other.  Some proponents claim any break is detrimental to retained learning, while other propose a specific time period has acceptable learning loss. This summer learning loss belief is often used as the foundation for the argument that traditional summer vacation adversely affects the learning of students and that YRS calendar would solve this problem. They assume that relatively little forgetting occurs between September and June but a huge amount of forgetting takes place between July and September. They also assert that non-institutional learning has no value.

There are reasonable responses that refute the YRS argument.

Locally, Dr. Keith Owens Yates, Ph.D, ABPP-Cn, Director of Pediatric Neuropsychology at Children's Hospital wrote in a letter to Ms. Sue McNaghten , President of the Worthington School Board, that "I can find no research to support claims that a continuous learning calendar is superior to the traditional calendar….A search of the scientific literature reveals no research evidence that the continuous learning calendar results in significant improvement in achievement…. Loss probably occurs largely in the first few weeks of summer. From that perspective, the continuous learning calendar might actually result in more cumulative loss of skills that the traditional calendar."

Dr. Yates' position is further supported by information in the Introduction to Psychology, by Clifford Morgan, New York, 1966. His evidence is summarized in the report "In Defense of the Traditional School Calendar: A Report to the Sycamore Board of Education, February 17, 1993".  That report concludes that  " research studies performed over the past 100 years have consistently shown that most forgetting of new information takes place in the first 4-7 days after the material is learned. After this first week the rate of forgetting tapers off and there is very little difference between week 2 and 10." Dr Morgan states "Such a negatively accelerated curve of retention is the rule; practically all retention curves are of this general shape. (see chart)"

 

  Mack Knopf, Daily Home, "Talladega City weighing pros and cons of year-round school,”, Talladega City, Alabama, Feb. 16, 2000. “According to the seventh edition of the Educational and Psychological Measurement and Evaluation, most lost information is gone from students’ memories after four days and doesn’t increase significantly afterward, so there would be no real advantage to shortening summer vacation.” 

Dr. Maxine Gallander Wintre, York University, The Journal of Educational Research, May/June 1986 [Vol. 79 (No. 5)]. ABSTRACT: This study challenges the assumption of generalized academic losses over the summer vacation from school. Metropolitan Achievement Tests were administered to 54 grade I students, 56 grade 3 students, and 60 grade 5 students in the spring and again when they returned to school in the fall. The students were attending a Canadian school in a middle-class suburb of a large metropolitan city. Analyses revealed significant improvement of overall academic skills. There were also significant interactions with grade level and content area. A significant loss was found only for mathematics computation for grade 3 students. This improvement over the summer months for middle-class students is discussed within the framework of contemporary cognitive theory. Moreover, a possible explanation is suggested for the popular, misleading assumption of generalized academic losses

In summary, the widely held assumption of generalized academic losses over the summer appears unwarranted. More specifically, academic changes over the summer appear to be differentially affected by both content area and grade level. This finding is of obvious practical importance since costly educational interventions are routinely mounted to counteract often nonexistent summer losses. It is important for theoretical reasons too, for it lends support to the conception of children as active, self-motivating learners.

Dr. Leo Wisenbender of the Los Angeles Unified Program and Evaluation Branch:  "It is absurd to suggest that children aren’t learning during the summer. It’s a different type of learning, which simply is not tested."

Dr. M. C. Newland, professor of psychology, Auburn University, 1998 “An effective education is not a collection of quickly forgotten, isolated facts, but rather the accumulation of a solid foundation of knowledge and a diverse array of analytical and procedural skills that are not forgotten in a few short weeks. The difference in the amount of forgetting after four weeks or 12 is not significant, especially when it is recognized that some of the information had been taught almost a year earlier in the previous fall. In fact, one could argue that a year-round calendar, with its multiple three-week breaks, simply offers more opportunity to forget.”

Charles W. Fisher and David C. Berliner, editors of "Perspectives on Instructional Time," (1985) "Increases in the amount of instructional time without efforts to improve the quality of instruction are likely to be disappointing. Increases of time alone will fail to provide useful impact to teachers, to provide student learning tasks that are more relevant to outcome measures or to enhance in any way the skills and knowledge of teachers."

Cooper, H., Nye, B., Charlton, K., Lindsay, J., Greathouse, S. (1986) The effects of summer vacation on achievement test scores: A narrative and Meta-analytic review. Bulletin of Educational Research, 66, 227-268. "Some students benefited from long summer vacations, some forgot things, but in most studies the net effect of summer vacation was close to zero. On average, students returned to school in the fall close to where they left off in the spring, with some forgetting of facts in which students had not become fluent.

There was some (weak) evidence that students diagnosed as learning disabled or considered to be at-risk showed some loss during the summer, especially where the memorization of facts was required. The overall effect is usually small, and depends on subject matter and economic advantage

Concepts, reading skills, math concepts, grammar, and similar things (“knowing how to do something”) are relatively unaffected by the summer break."

Haenn, J.F. (1996) Evaluating the promise of Single-Track Year-Round Schools. ERS Spectrum, Fall, 1996. 27-35. "They did a pretest in May 1994 and a posttest in May 1995. All groups improved. Even those who moved out to a traditional year calendar. While there is much discussion of impressions of how the YRS helped, there was no statistically significant effect of “group.” That is, it did not matter whether the students stayed, moved in, or moved out."

“Year-round Schools Research Report,” Church- Well Group Inc., 1988 notes that “Children attending two or more intersessions scored slightly lower than those attending traditional schools, disputing the notion “more is better". Academic test score comparisons between year-round schools and standard schools matched for key characteristics indicated that year-round participation didn’t effect student achievement. Schools were matched in size, ethnicity, number receiving free and reduced lunches and mobility rates.”

"YRS May not be the Answer", Randall Engle, Ph.D Georgia Tech, Psychology and Human Memory, The State,  May 1992 says that "children forget  most of what they learn in the first three weeks after a lesson.  Shorter more frequent breaks give children more opportunities to forget and increase the need for review."

The CQ Researcher: May 1996, Dr. Barbara Heyns, Ph.D, N.Y. University ,Sociology, contends that "there's no good evidence to support the claim that the Year-Round schedule enhances knowledge retention."

5.2. No Concrete Proof of YRS Academic Achievement

There are a number of studies that reveal there is no proof of academic achievement in YRS.

One such report is  “A Statewide Evaluation of Academic Achievement in Year-Round Schools,” by Bradely J. McMillen of the Division of Accountability Services, North Carolina Department of Education. This is the largest comparison of the effects of school calendar change in the 100-year history of year-round school experiments in the United States.

The North Carolina study of 345,000 test scores of traditional calendar and year-round students found that year-round calendar students, even though they had more classroom instructional time because of intercessions, had no academic advantage. 57% of the North Carolina schools on year round calendars have mandatory attendance at intercessions for failing students.

The author points out a gaping hole in the research on time and learning. There is a need for studies that “differentiate between the effects of a year-round calendar and the effects of additional instructional time on student achievement . . . .The question of whether the total amount of instructional time or the distribution of that time across the calendar year might be responsible for any achievement advantages for year-round schools has yet to be addressed,” McMillen said.

The data for McMillen’s study, which includes test score comparisons of like socio-economic and demographic groups, was extracted from two years of scores of 1,470 North Carolina public schools. The sample included 106 schools that were operating on a year-round calendar during the 1997-98 school year. The North Carolina year-round schools also failed to reflect the academic advantage that is typically associated with demographics of children who come from families with higher levels of education. Students at North Carolina year-round schools have parents with slightly higher levels of education than peers in traditional calendar schools and are less likely to be minority.  The YRS concept did not deliver on promises of higher achievement by advocates of a year-round calendar and longer school year.

McMillen reviewed the literature on time and learning and found the research implies “that simply exposing students to classrooms and teachers is not sufficient to affect learning, implying that the educational quality of the activities and interactions that occur in those settings mediates the relationship between time and learning.” In conclusion, McMillen wrote" No statistically significant differences in reading or math scores were found in test score comparisons of traditional calendar students with those in year-round programs, either a school-wide program or a school-within a school that also had a traditional calendar."

Gene Glass, Associate Dean of Research in the College of Education at Arizona State University who has studied balanced calendars since the 1970s, recently stated in the article "Summer vacation late in coming at year-round school" published Tuesday, July 17, 2001, in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer Reporter that "You can't scrape up a piece of solid (test) evidence that academic achievement is superior on that (YRS) calendar," he said. "The conclusion is that 180 days of schooling a year gives you 180 days of schooling output, regardless of how you arrange it or how you spread it out."

While test scores are only one measure of performance and learning, they nevertheless do provide a telling pattern of low performance in those states that were early to embrace the year-round calendar.  California has the largest number of children in YRS with 1.3 million or 62 percent of the nation's total in the 2000-2001 school year. A list of 1998 NAEP (National Assessment for Education Progress) test scores in an Education Week special report (2001) shows California ranks fifth from the bottom in eighth-grade reading.

States with the largest and longest-running year-round school programs are found at the bottom of the performance rankings on national tests. In fact, three of the five states with the largest enrollments of year-round students dominate the list of poorest performers in the 1998 NAEP Reading Exam for fourth-graders.

In a report, "Year Round Schools: Do they make a Difference?" Phi Delta Kappa stated "Despite the claims that long summer vacations lead to lessened achievement, year-round schools are not associated with great leaps in academic achievement. Standardized testing shows that year round programs have little impact on scores one way or another. If a district is looking to show major increases in standardized tests, year-round schools are not the answer."

While there are many reports that contradict claims of academic improvement at YRS, one school official finds some negative impact concerning YRS. Albuquerque, NM school board member Don Patterson notes that "the grade-repetition rate among kids on year-round  schedules was twice that of kids on traditional schedules."  Although the Albuquerque system was multi-track, it does make one pause to think if grade repetition rates might actually increase at WHS.  

While academic achievement is questionable at best, some examples of declined performance can be cited.  The Jefferson County schools in Colorado abandoned year-round school because in part of no educational improvement and in fact a decline in test scores in one high school.  A year-round school researcher, Carolyn Kneese of the University of Houston, while touting the benefits of YRE (S), admits that "if testing at the third year, YRE (S) is quite possibly demonstrating a lower effect."  Journal of Research and Development in Education, Volume 29, Number 2 Winter 1996.  Review of Research on student learning in year-round education.  Carolyn Calvin Kneese, University of Houston.  

Denver Rocky Mountain News, August 1, 2000."The early school start provided by the YRS calendar at five Denver elementaries didn’t deliver on promised performance improvement. Third grade reading and fourth grade writing test scores fell between 1998 and 2000; the six schools that had yet to switch to a YRS actually outperformed the five schools that started early in 1999.

 “Year-round school dies: Board votes to go back to traditional nine-month calendar next autumn,” Pahrump Valley Times, Pahrump, Nevada, Nov. 17, 2000. – The Nye County School District is ending its three-year- experiment with a multitrack year-round school, citing high costs and lack of educational benefit at the elementary school. The experiment was a quick fix for overcrowding that would have been continued if it had academic merit. “Well, all the data is in, and it’s not (educationally beneficial),” said Peggy Smith, school board member.

From the Meridian School District website (http://sites.netscape.net/sosmeridian.): A review of test scores shows no advantage to year-round schools in the district and a decline in reading scores in every grade level, according to data compiled by SOS Citizen’s Group, a grassroots organization opposed to the year-round calendar. The analysis of test scores published in the Idaho Statesman in May 2000, shows a decline in reading for the year-round students while there were increases for students on a traditional calendar in a comparison of reading ability from fall to winter of the 1999-2000 school year. “Perhaps the frequent breaks in a year-round calendar actually hurt academic performance,” the group suggests in a posting of scores on its Website

The Phoenix Gazette, EDITORIALS, Friday May 3, 1991 "Year-round fraud". "There is no evidence that indicates there's any difference in achievement between year-round and traditional schools," said Tom Payne, who is in charge of year-round education for the California Department of Education." The moral of the story is that the year-round school, like so many so-called education reforms, is like rearranging the chairs on the deck of the Titanic. The ship is still sinking. However, before attributing any causal factor to the calendar schedule, one would have to eliminate all other influences on student achievement such as teacher ability, teaching plans, time on task, books, homework assigned, homework completed, parental support etc"

Studies that purport the benefits of year-round school have also been called into question by several researchers.  John Blaine, a Worthington, Ohio teacher who at first thought YRS was a good idea later changed his mind.  After studying the issue under the supervision of an OSU professor, he found that many studies of year-round education were inconclusive, confusing and poorly designed. He summarized his findings in a report to the Worthington Board of Education.

Research Reports Cited by NAYRE are Disputed

Many grassroots groups opposed to YRS have established websites that they continue to maintain long after the issue has been decided in their community in an effort to help other groups find information and seek advice. One such website is http://www.geocities.com/weswalker99/. This website details the efforts of University of Auburn professors in defeating the initiative in their local public schools. A specific article,  "Year-Round Schools and Academics" by Robert Rosenfeld, analyzes the reports listed on the NAYRE website at that time. Each report was found to have faults in data collection, analysis or lack of follow-up reporting. Below is a summary of his findings:

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Improved first year results are expected and should be discounted due to increased  energy put into the program. High amounts of public and administrative focus can cause many extraneous improvements that are not directly related to the calendar. 

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Follow-up studies were not done, and in fact many districts changed back to traditional calendar later and this data is not provided. Ongoing analysis does not seem to be an  objective, just conversion. (also see Summermatters.com, Reject List)

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Some improved results were measured to individual school's objectives, not standardized district tests, and it is unclear how multiple objectives were combined into one indicator. It could have been the case that schools were better able to   meet their achievement objectives due to student turnover, regression of scores to the mean when scores are averaged, lower overall scores and thus less demanding objectives, or other factors not related to the YRS single-track calendar.

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Some tests compare a grade or two over time. Consequently the actual students being compared were different.

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  Positive indicators, are often subjective in nature (e.g., teachers "feel" that . . .; parents "believe" that . . . etc.) and should not be used to substantiate gains.

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Comparisons between year round and traditional do not factor the SES of the schools being compared or group students by the same.

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  Position of the class in the school year program was not matched.

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YRS is not often the singular new program or ongoing program at any one school. No control group was used to isolate the  impact of just one program.

A member of a Corvallis, Oregon task force in 1993 interviewed the NAYRE Directory Top 10 Year-Round Districts in the country (the ones with the most year-round schools) contacted all 10 of the districts and spoke with the professionals who do Student Assessment. When Jo-Ann Taylor contacted the same professionals listed in the NAYRE reports, not one of the Student Assessment professionals could say that YRS improved academic achievement.   A list of the professionals Taylor  contacted, along with their comments and their addresses and phone numbers are available on the  http://summermatters.com/history.htm. Two examples are provided here: 

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Dr. Robert Ryan, Assessment and Evaluation Team Leader, (619) 293-8433 for San Diego School District, confirmed that the methodology used in the NAYRE report created by Dr. Alcorn was questionable and that "achievement gains cannot predictably be expected with the single-track year-round program."

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Dr. Anna Tilton, Director of  Student Assessment, (619) 425-9600 for the Chula Vista Elementary School District, confirmed that "There is nothing to show that scores are better for Year-Round Schools."

In addition, Taylor contends that the NAYRE reporting which compares all 11 YRS in the Chula Vista District to all of the 18 traditional calendar schools in the study is flawed. She explains that the report does not consider the many variables involved between and within the two groups.

Research Opens Politicians Eyes

LAKELAND, FL. – A candidate for school superintendent backed off support of a year-round calendar in elections held in November 2000. “There is absolutely no hard-driven data that says the balanced calendar works,” Denny Dunn told a Kiwanis Club meeting. Dunn, assistant superintendent for human resources, said he was originally swayed by reports provided by Charles Ballinger, executive director of the National Association for Year-Round Education, which claimed the calendar would help struggling students.--“Dunn Changes Mind on Issue: He says year-round school idea needs more data,” The Ledger, Lakeland, Nov. 4, 2000. 

Additionally, most YRS programs are also open enrollment/magnet schools. As reported in
Academic Achievement in Year-Round Schools, by Bradley J. McMillen, North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, Division of Accountability Services (Email: bmcmille@dpi.state.nc.us, (919) 807-3808) this fact may result in further invalidation of YRS achievement results. Mr. McMillen states that "Given that many year-round programs are magnet programs and therefore may draw students from outside of the school's normal attendance zone, the consideration of student-level covariates in studies of year-round schools is essential.

"Not only do studies of year-round education often suffer the limitations inherent in retrospective non-experimental research, but local decisions about where year-round calendars are implemented and the potential effects of school choice may also produce systematic differences between students in year-round and traditional calendar schools and programs." He further notes that " socioeconomic homogeneity within tracks occurs in situations where families are allowed to choose the track in which their child will enroll, and that differences in academic achievement between tracks are largely accounted for by these demographic differences."

5.3. Claims of Reduced Absenteeism Are Questionable

Claims by proponents that YRS reduces absenteeism does not always hold water.  In fact,  Don Patterson, a former Albuquerque, New Mexico School Board member says "we had more absenteeism among kids on year-round schedules than among kids on traditional schedules."  This quote from the CQ Researcher,  Year-round  Schools.  Do They Improve Academic Performance. published  May 17th , 1996.

Moreover, Roxanne Staff, the former president of the Dallas Independent School District Board of Education, notes that one of the reasons that their systems abandoned year-round school was poor attendance by some kids.  She says, "Families complained that their children were on different schedules.  Some parents kept older siblings home to baby-sit (younger siblings) during intersessions "

1.2. YRS At Whetstone Puts Undue Hardship On Students Who Attend Other Schools

There are several Columbus Public Schools students who attend CAHS, Ft. Hayes, and the Northeast Career Center, but whose "home" school is Whetstone. Some of these students enjoy participating in marching band during the fall, and theatre productions and various athletic activities throughout the school year at Whetstone.  Currently, this is relatively easy for these students, as those alternative high schools follow a traditional, nine-month school calendar. 

If YRS is implemented at Whetstone, some of the teachers and coaches may choose to schedule more intensive band, play, or athletics practices during the three-week intersessions.  Perhaps the band would practice from 8 a.m. until noon for one, two, or all three weeks instead of from 7-8:15 a.m.  Perhaps play casts would rehearse from noon to 3 p.m. everyday, instead of during the evening hours.  Perhaps various coaches would add practice or weight training times during the day instead of early in the morning or in the late afternoon.  How would this affect those students who would be in class all day at one of the alternative high schools, but who are integral members of the band, a play, or a team?  It would place them in a decidedly unfair and inferior position, when compared with their peers who would attend Whetstone on a full-time basis.  Or, would this choice no

choice no longer be available to those students?

 

A similar problem would be faced by students who currently take coursework at

Whetstone during the mornings and go to one of the career centers for additional, more intensive coursework (which is not offered at Whetstone) in the afternoons.  Would these students be expected to follow two different but overlapping school calendars, thus effectively requiring them to attend school an additional five or six weeks a year?  Or, would this choice no longer be available to them?

5.5. No Benefits for WHS Special Needs Students

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was first implemented in 1975 to guarantee free and appropriate public educational services to all children with developmental disabilities.  [Most recent revisions were made to the IDEA in 1997.]

There are many students currently enrolled at Whetstone High School who benefit from the IDEA.  Most notably are those students enrolled in the classes for the mentally handicapped, many whom come from districts outside of the CPS boundaries. (e.g. Southwestern City Schools)   How can it be determined that a YRS calendar would benefit these students when absolutely no studies have been published which show any beneficial effects of YRS on students with mild, moderate, severe, or profound mental retardation or developmental disabilities?  What additional childcare burdens would a YRS schedule place on the parents, families, and care providers of these students?

Whetstone also shares enrollment of some students who have visual impairments with the Ohio School for the Blind.  In this case, Whetstone provides the least restrictive educational environment for these students, as identified on their Individual Educational Plans (IEPs), ensuring their right to participate in the general curriculum with their typically developing peers in regular education classes, as well as in extracurricular and other nonacademic activities.  Not only do these students take academic and arts classes with the general school population, their participation at Whetstone enables them to meet and make friends with their typically developing peers.  The residential and academic program at the Ohio School for the Blind operates on a traditional nine-month school calendar.  What options would be available to those visually impaired students who rely on Whetstone to provide them with perhaps their only opportunity to learn and interact with typically developing peers?  Would this choice be removed for these students?

There are many CPS students living in Whetstone's catchments area who have special needs and for whom Individual Educational Plans (IEPs) are written each year.  These students have various learning, language, behavioral, and other disabilities that challenge them, but which they strive to overcome on a daily basis at home, in the community, and at school.  For the most part, these students participate fully in the academic program at Whetstone, and many participate as well in extracurricular athletic programs.  For these students, Whetstone is their "neighborhood" school and plays an important part in helping them to be successful in all aspects of their daily lives. 

For some of these students, especially those who have Attention Deficit Disorder or other specific learning disabilities, a schedule, such as that provided by the YRS proposal, would disrupt their learning to such an extent that they would cease to be successful students at Whetstone. 

Teachers complain about loss of skill and learning over a 10 or 11-week summer break, and even complain about learning loss evidenced over the shorter winter and spring breaks.  Yet, a YRS calendar would add a fourth, three-week break period and would lengthen the two traditionally shorter breaks (winter and spring) to three weeks each.  If teachers see skill loss over the traditional one-week spring break, why would they want to lengthen that break by two weeks and add a fourth break to the mix?  If skills are lost over a 10-11 week summer break, would those skills not be lost to a similar extent over a six-week break in the summer?  It is unfair to assume that these students with special needs would want to enroll in supplemental classes during intersessions, when most of them need periodic breaks from school to prevent overload, stress, and burn-out, and to ensure continuing educational success.  Would these students be forced to enroll at other high schools in the district, when they have already invested significant amounts of time and effort into their work and activities at Whetstone?  What choice does this offer these students?

References and Resources

Mary Anne Ledinsky, Director of Schools
Franklin County Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities
2879 Johnstown Road
Columbus, Ohio 43219
Tel.  614/475-6440

 

5.6.  Balanced Calendar Ignores Learning Outside Of the Classroom and Promotes The Idea That Only the School Knows What is Best for Our Children

 Like many public institutions, there are problems in CPS and at WHS.    In this particular case, WHS administrators have seized upon these problems to propose radical change.   They are suggesting that our children do not need to be out enjoying their youth for a full summer or to earn needed money for the rest of the school year or for college. The WHS administrators beg the question that there might even be summer learning GAIN.   Summer offers unique opportunities for children to participate in a variety of activities ranging from educational summer camps, band camps, scouting camps, sailing camps, and family travel.  They suggest that our children can only learn in a classroom.

But as Dr. Leo Wisenbender, of the Los Angeles Unified Program and Evaluation Branch, points out in1994 "it is absurd to suggest that children aren’t learning during the summer. It’s a different type of learning,  which simply is not tested. Furthermore, a Capitol Resource Backgrounder entitled The Never-ending School: An analysis of Year-round Education in California showed that " reading scores for middle class students tended to increase."  

One study often cited by YRS proponents even concludes that children who have the opportunity to do things during the summer improve on tests of some subjects and return better off than when they left in the spring. Those children who do not have these advantages either show no improvement or, in some cases, loss. (Cooper, H. et al. 1996. The Effects of Summer Vacation on Achievement Test Scores: A Narrative and meta-Analytic Review.  Review of Education Research. Fall. 66:3:227-268.) htttp://www.auburn.edu/~enebasa/html/pospaper.pp.html

  Another education professional asserts that learning outside the classroom may be more effective.  Stephen Krashen, Professor of Education, University of Southern California, USA Today, July 26 2001 "The evidence is clearly mixed on whether summer school (YRS) helps struggling students…..There may be an easier way. It has been firmly established that recreational reading has a powerful effect on language and literacy development…reading for pleasure has a stronger impact on increasing reading test scores than time spent on traditional "skill building" activities"   It may be more effective to improve library collections, staff availability and the hours of school and public libraries.  Krashen cites University of Illinois researches who concluded "that picking up vocabulary by reading is 10 times as fast in terms of words learned per minute", vs. vocabulary drills and exercises.

5.7.  Negative Environmental Effects on Learning 
in the proposed WHS Environment
 

Temperature

The proposal for year-round school at Whetstone High School puts forth a start date of July 20.  Temperatures in Columbus tend to peak in late July and August, with temperatures typically reaching the high 80s to low 90s by early afternoon on many days.  This also tends to be the most humid time of the year.

The school building itself is not air-conditioned.  The use of large, industrial-sized fans placed in hallways, with smaller fans placed in classrooms, has been proposed to help mitigate the effects of summer heat in the building.  Most classrooms have operable windows.  The gymnasium, auditorium, locker rooms, weight room, band room, and MH classrooms do not.  Some classrooms are located on the second floor of the building.  In all probability, the roof is a ballasted black single-ply membrane roofing system.  This type of roofing system absorbs and transmits to the interior space (i.e., classrooms) the maximum radiant solar energy (i.e., heat) of most types of commercial roofing systems typically used on school buildings. 

While most classroom windows do open, air movement through classrooms will occur only by opening classroom doors or using fans.  Opening windows causes room temperatures to reach outside air temperatures more quickly.  As late mornings and early afternoons are reached, temperatures in classrooms will begin to peak.  Effects on classrooms on the west side of the building will be worse, especially during the afternoons, when that side of the building will face the sun.  However, the worst effects will be felt in those classrooms with a southern exposure, due to their all day exposure to the effects of solar radiation.  Temperatures in the gymnasium will be especially stifling, as it sits on the south and west corner of the building, and has inoperable skylights.  It is reasonable to predict that the air temperatures in most classrooms will be in the mid-to-high 80s much of the time.

Fans do not change ambient air temperature.  The cooling effect of fans is a perceived effect, caused by the evaporation of perspiration from the skin.  The closer a person sits to an operating fan, the cooler the perceived temperature will be.  Those seated farthest from a fan will perceive little to no cooling effect.  The actual room air temperature remains the same, whether a fan is on or off. 

A review of the literature reveals the following:

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 Flynn and Segil reported that women tend to prefer slightly higher temperatures than those preferred by men.  Adults over 40 years of age tend to prefer temperatures slightly higher than those preferred by younger people.  The implications here are that older, female teachers at Whetstone would likely be the most comfortable in the current, unair-conditioned teaching and learning environment, while the students would be the least comfortable.

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The effects of even moderately elevated temperatures on students cause undue physical stress and impede, slow, and impair learning.  Harmer's study revealed that reading and math abilities in children were consistently and adversely affected by temperatures over 74°F.  Other studies cited by researchers at Cornell University indicated decreased performance in testing situations where temperatures exceeded 78°F, with best results noted at 70-72°F.

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Increased temperatures and humidity deteriorate student achievement and task performance and decrease attention spans.  Cooler temperatures are associated with increased comfort and productivity.

To maximize student learning within the classroom environment:

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The temperature must be continuously varied, but always kept between 65°F and 75°F.

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The humidity level must be kept low at all times.

Optimal temperatures for different school spaces must be recognized:

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Increased temperatures and humidity deteriorate student achievement and task performance and decrease attention spans.  Cooler temperatures are associated with increased comfort and productivity.

To maximize student learning within the classroom environment:

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The temperature must be continuously varied, but always kept between 65°F and 75°F.

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The humidity level must be kept low at all times.

Optimal temperatures for different school spaces must be recognized:

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Auditorium: 68-72°F

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Gymnasium:  55-65°F

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Classrooms:     72-74°F

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Locker rooms:   65-68°F

The adverse effects of elevated temperatures on teachers and students include:

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increased stress-related factors on both groups;

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increased fatigue factors on both groups;

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increased levels of frustration on both groups;

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decreased levels of tolerance on both groups;

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decreased learning and performance of students;

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 increased health-related risks, especially to those individuals with cardiac disease, asthma or other respiratory diseases, allergies, seizure disorders, etc.

Will dress codes be adjusted to accommodate the comfort levels of students teachers, and other Whetstone staff (especially the poor cafeteria workers)?

Noise

Along with temperature, sound is one of the three key environmental conditions that staff and students notice most often in classrooms.  (The other condition is lighting.)  Since speech is a key element of effective teaching, poor acoustics can have a large negative effect on learning.  Poor acoustics generates reverberation and background noise in a learning space.

Noise is usually defined as "unwanted sound." Background noise refers to any auditory disturbance within a room that interferes with what a listener wants to hear.  Noise is not only annoying and distracting, it is also harmful to everyone involved in the educational process.  It has negative effects on teachers, whose voices fatigue while they attempt to speak over the noise, on children with hearing difficulties, on persons with limited English proficiency and those who must listen to them, and on persons with various learning and speech/language disabilities.  In a typical classroom at any given time, approximately 15% to 18% of all students (ages 6 to 19 years) will have some degree of hearing impairment (either known or not).  This 

includes the different temporary and/or permanent forms of conductive hearing loss (e.g., damage to the ear structure caused by repeated ear infections, acute or chronic forms of ear infections, birth efects, etc.), as well as permanent forms of sensor neural hearing loss (including loss from birth, loss due to illness or medications, loss due to aging, loss caused by excessive noise exposure, etc.). 

Moderate noise is more insidious than excessive noise, because its effects can also have an adverse impact on learning without anyone being aware of or recognizing that impact or those effects.  Students may misunderstand a key word or two -- just enough to miss the point or to get the homework assignment wrong.  Students may fatigue from the strain of listening in a noisy environment and stop listening.  Teachers are likely to be exhausted after a day of speaking with raised voices and repeating spoken material, repeating directions, repeating answers to questions, etc.

In addition to inattentiveness and exhaustion, exposure to constant, long-term levels of even moderate noise has other negative physiological and psychological effects, including increased levels of frustration and decreased tolerance, increased blood pressure and heart rate, increased occurrences of headaches (including migraines), and other typical stress-induced responses. 

  Architects, environmental engineers, and acoustical designers try to design, or adept, spaces to minimize the negative effects of noise on those who live, work, or learn in those spaces.  The three noise sources considered in classroom design are external noise sources (i.e., sounds generated outside the school building), internal noise sources (i.e., sounds generated within the school but outside the classroom), and classroom noise sources (i.e., sounds created within the classroom). 

Noises generated outside a school building include street traffic, air traffic, construction noise, outdoor equipment (e.g., mowers), weather (e.g., wind, rain), etc.  Noises generated within the school but outside the classroom can come from several sources, including fans or pumps in heating and ventilation systems, plumbing, workshop, craft or music rooms, kitchens, dining rooms, adjacent classrooms, slamming doors, and hallways.  Noises generated within the unoccupied classroom space include the hum produced by faulty fluorescent light ballasts, fans in wall-mounted ventilation systems, monitors and fans in computer CPUs, and the resulting echoes and reverberation effects as the sound waves from these noise sources bounce around the hard surfaces within the room.  Noises generated within an occupied classroom include additional human-generated noises--shuffling feet and papers, coughing, rustling of clothes, scraping of chair legs across tile floors, dropping of pencils or books on the floor, talking, etc.--in addition to the hums and reverberations previously mentioned. 

When architects, environmental engineers, and acoustical designers select construction materials to optimize the acoustical characteristics of a school building, they recommend all of the following:  installation of insulation in all walls, with acoustical insulation used within common classroom walls, well sealed classroom doors, no glass in walls common to hallways, small laminated glass panels only in doors common to hallways, carpeted hallways, insulated double pane windows, and the use of (padded) acoustical liners inside heating, ventilation, and air conditioning ductwork to reduce airborne mechanical noise (such as, vibration, squealing motor/ fan noise, etc.).  While Whetstone High School does have newly installed double paned windows, the building itself has none of the other recommended features and is a noisy building.  The potential benefit of the new windows is negated by their need to be open during the summer months under the YRS proposal.

When architects, environmental engineers, and acoustical designers select construction materials to optimize the acoustical characteristics of a classroom, they recommend a combination of the following:  suspended high-absorptive ceiling panels, acoustical wall panels, thick carpeting on specialized foam padding, and/or curtains or thick draperies over windows.  All openings in the walls, floors, and ceilings must be well sealed with acoustical caulking material to further prevent the transmission of noise into the classroom space. 

A typical classroom at Whetstone High School has none of these features.  In fact, a typical Whetstone classroom represents the worst type of acoustical design, as the tile floors, concrete block walls, and glass windows all provide hard, reflective surfaces, which causes increased reverberation of sound, and classroom windows are open during the warmer months of the year. All classrooms at Whetstone are noisy learning environments. 

In a typical, quiet classroom environment, studies show that students with normal hearing who are seated within 6 feet of the teacher (i.e., the first row of seats) hear about 90% of what the teacher says, while those students seated 24 feet from the teacher (i.e., typically the last row of seats) hear only 40% of what the teacher says.  Students with hearing loss, central auditory processing disorders, attention deficit, and other learning disabilities hear significantly less than their peers whose hearing is within normal limits.  One study found that students with normal hearing, in a classroom with above-average acoustic design, understood 71% of what the teacher said.  However, hearing impaired students in the same classroom could understand only 41% of what the teacher said.  In a classroom with poor acoustical design, when the effects of external noises, internal noises, and classroom noises are added to the acoustical environment, those students seated in the back of the room are unable to hear most of what the teacher says, if they are able to hear anything at all.  In fact, students seated anywhere but directly in front of the teacher will difficulty hearing what is said.  Other studies show that, in classrooms with hard surfaces, the percentage of voice consonants (i.e., the components of speech that carry the most meaning) lost in the echoes (i.e., reverberation) of the classroom was between 15% and 50%.  The results are usually students who fall asleep, misbehave, or stop trying to listen and pay attention, because they cannot hear.  Proper design can help schools avoid acoustical problems. Fixing the problems may improve academic performance and teacher morale and lead to fewer dropouts and disciplinary problems, especially among marginal students.

It is also known that noise generates more noise.  That is, the poorer the acoustics and the noisier the environment, the louder and noisier the students will become--and the louder the teacher must be to be heard over the noise.

To mitigate the effects of summer heat in the building, the use of large, industrial-sized fans placed in hallways and small fans placed in classrooms has been proposed for Whetstone.  What will be done to mitigate the effects of all this additional noise in the building and the classrooms so someone has a chance to hear something of meaning?  If nothing is done, no one will be able to hear anything. 

Research has shown that one effective way to produce change in students' listening behaviors and academic achievement has been through the use of FM sound-field amplification.  A sound-field amplification system operates like a wireless public-address system and can be installed easily in less than five minutes.  The teacher wears a microphone that is attached to a small FM wireless transmitter and sends a radio signal to receivers built into several speakers around the room.  The amplifier is set, and the loudspeakers are positioned to create a positive signal-noise ratio or approximately +15 decibels in all listening areas of the classroom.  This means that the signal (i.e., the teacher's spoken message) is always louder than the other noises generated in, and out of, the classroom.  Acoustically speaking, this type of system puts every student in the front row. 

Before YRS is seriously considered for Whetstone High School, all or some of the following must occur:

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A quiet air conditioning system for the entire building must be installed.  Window air conditioners in individual classrooms MUST NOT BE USED. 

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All classroom spaces must be evaluated individually to determine exactly what mix of acoustic treatments would be best for the use of the space.  Appropriate acoustic treatments include acoustic ceiling tiles, acoustic ceiling and wall panels, acoustic barriers around computers, padded carpeting, and/or window coverings. In addition, cracks around doors to hallways should be sealed and ventilation noises in individual classrooms should be treated.

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Vinyl barriers should be fastened to the original ceiling and allowed to hang down to the suspended ceiling panels, to reduce the noise traveling between classrooms via suspended ceiling systems.

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All hallway areas must be carpeted.

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FM sound-field amplification systems must be installed--and used--in all classrooms.

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All teachers must receive in-service training on the need, and methods, to most effectively control human-generated noise in occupied classroom spaces.

Air Quality

A third area of concern related to the issue of YRS at Whetstone High School is the effects of air quality on the health of teachers and learners in the classrooms and the building itself, especially during late July and August.  Along with high temperatures in Columbus, Ohio, go high levels of relative humidity.  This occasionally leads to days when officials declare smog and ozone "alerts."  Officials recommend that citizens engage in no unnecessary outdoor activities, stay inside, keep their windows closed to prevent airborne contaminants from entering, and using their air conditioners to help filter out those contaminants.

 
Unfortunately, at Whetstone, there is no air conditioning, only windows that opens. It has been suggested that fans could be placed strategically in classrooms and throughout the building in an effort to reduce sweltering air temperatures.  While fans do move air, they also fully and indiscriminately move particulate matter in that air.  Pollutants will enter the building through open windows and doors, and then will be distributed through the learning spaces and the building by the fans.  Of concern, in addition to dangerous levels of ozone and smog entering the building, is the free invasion of learning spaces by various allergens (e.g., ragweed pollens), which flourish in the late summer months in our city. 

An additional area of concern is the rampant growth of molds and mildew in warm, humid spaces in buildings.  Whetstone would be a prime candidate as a breeding ground for these fungal contaminants, which are recently shown to cause significant health risks.

With remarkably increased occurrences of respiratory disease, particularly asthma, among children and young adults, and with increasing numbers of our population becoming sensitive to airborne pollutants and allergens, it seems particularly responsible to place vulnerable learners and teachers in a learning environment without regard to this aspect of their physical well-being.

To alleviate the health risks inherent in hot, humid climates, ASHRAE recommends the use of air conditioning or dehumidification in school buildings to prevent the growth of molds and mildew.

Cornell University researches define indoor air pollutants as the "particles or gases that occur in the air inside buildings that adversely affect the health of their occupants."  ASHRAE defines acceptable indoor air quality as "air in which there are no known contaminants at harmful concentrations as determined by cognizant authorities and with which a substantial majority (80% or more) of the people exposed do not express dissatisfaction."

Primary causal agents of allergic asthma include dust, animal proteins (e.g.,

dead skin cells, dander, cockroach and rodent feces, etc.), fungal spores, pollens, molds, and dust mites.  37% of the population is allergic to mice.  The numbers of dust mites, a primary cause of allergic responses, increase with increased humidity and increased temperature.  Mites cannot survive at relative humidity levels below 50%.  Indoor air temperatures of 70°F and 50% relative humidity or less will control mites.  At 80°F, relative humidity has to be less than 40% to prevent mite growth.  Mite colonies thrive in the spring, summer, and fall months.

Indoor fungi are found to grow on ceiling tile, in ductwork, ventilation diffusers, humidifiers, condensate trays, filters, etc., in buildings.  (Researchers have found fungi growing on everything from glass to jet fuel.)  The highest concentrations of indoor fungi are found during the summer months.  Treatment includes filtering and keeping relative humidity at no more than 70%.  Up to 15% of the population is allergic to fungi.

General Conclusions Regarding the Learning Environment

In general, researchers who study the learning environment all agree that improving the physical learning facility itself will lead to higher student learning and academic achievement.  Specific factors to be considered include temperature, noise, lighting, and the physical space. Researchers agree that the ideal learning temperature for young adults should range between 68°F and 74°F at 30 inches from the floor, if the relative humidity is kept between 30-60%.  If the humidity level rises above 70%, it impairs human performance.  Ambient noise levels should be minimized to improve the signal-to-noise ratio and to facilitate the students' ability to hear the teacher during instruction.

5.8. Negative Effects on Non-Custodial Parents

Michael D. Jones, Superior Court Judge in California writes in a letter to Members of the Board

Paradise Valley School District Number 69 in Phoenix, Arizona that he is concerned that "any proposal to reduce the number of days in the traditional summer vacation will reduce the amount of time that non-custodial parents will spend with their children." He goes on to say that "it causes parents to file more post- decree modification actions in our courts. Most parents can agree on visitation schedule modifications; however, many are not capable of agreement (on any issue) and require court intervention. We really don't need any more cases filed than are necessary. Our court resources are already stretched to maximum capacity."  In essence, the YRS change may lead to addition legal bills for parents to re-work custodial issues.

 Locally, several parents in the WHS school area have expressed similar concerns. 

5.9.  Implementing YRS at Whetstone 
Will Mean Significant Start-up Costs 
and Increased Operating Costs

A Decatur Daily article on the cost of year-round schools notes that there is no fixed formula for the cost of converting to a YRS.  However, administrators at schools that have failed and succeeded agree that it's going to cost more money, but disagree on the worth of the change.   The Orange County public schools in Orlando Florida showed that "..after six years, the system spent $232 more per student per year on a single-track, year-round  calendar.'  The mult-track calendar implemented there to solve overcrowding saved the system $346 per student compared to the traditional calendar.  (After seeing no improvement in test scores and an increase in cost) the school officials could not justify keeping it, said Dianne Locker, senior administrator for special projects. (Diane Locker is a former president of the National Association For Year-Round Education.)

The Exploratory Committee has said they will not know the cost of implementing the balanced calendar until at least after the first year of operation. Some studies and reports suggest that a 45-15 single track school will increase annual operating costs by 10-50% over the conventional calendar. This would mean an excess annual price tag of $750,000 to $3,750,000 annually.

Locally, the Second Avenue proposal for YRS noted at least a $500,000 one time cost for air conditioning.   Second Avenue is a small school compared with WHS.  How much would Whetstone cost to air-condition?  Other cost estimates suggest an annual cost of over $70,000.

Other testimony on cost comes from Quinn Rasberry  in her 1992 report, "Year-round Schools May Not Be The Answer."  She says, "year-round schools are not cost -effective to operate unless the student population substantially exceeds traditional school capacity.... there are increased expenses for air- conditioning, maintenance and staff salaries."  It is further noted by L. Rogers that year-round school offers a moderate savings in building and maintenance costs, but an increase in personnel salaries and cooling costs.  His comments are from a 1993 article, "The pros and cons of year-round education at the elementary school level."  (Unpublished thesis.) 

Cost due to increased absenteesm

Another part of the cost factor to consider comes due to absences.  Since school funding in many schools is tied to enrollment,   A 1994 report, ERS report # 7112   Report on single-track year-round education in San Diego Unified School District noted that there were more student absences and it result in an $800,000 loss in funding compared with the $428,000 loss in the traditional school.

These and other excerpts are available at http://www.auburn.edu/~enebasa/html/resanbi.pp.html

5.10. Community and Businesses 
would be adversely impacted
 

Community impact is probably the most difficult component to measure and define. However, it is obvious that Whetstone under an alternative calendar would effectively be an alternative school and the surrounding community would lose their community-based school. As the Exploratory Committee stated, "If you don't like the modified calendar, you can opt out. But you will not be guaranteed enrollment at any specific school, you will lottery in if possible according the normal process. "

This is not fair to students in the middle of their high school careers who have strong emotional ties to their school and friends and may opt to stay at a YRS-WHS only for those reasons. Overtime, these reasons will change the student's perception that school is for social benefit and not for education benefit.

Equally obvious is that community businesses and residents that rely on students as a summer labor pool.  WHS students and their families are also customers to local seasonal businesses that could be adversely affected.  That is illustrated by a recent letter to the editor by Newt Jones, the new owner of the Olympic Swim Club, who says he has many Whetstone students he relies on to be lifeguards and swim instructors, both volunteer and paid employees, who could not work during a year-round school. The lack of local customers could effectively close his business.

 

Many elderly residents rely on high school age youths to mow lawns and clean yards in the summer. Many students do this for neighbors, and some on a larger scale, and most receive at least "pocket" money for their service. This is a learning experience of responsibility, money management and interaction with adults that is vital to growing into adults.

 

Less visible are the devastating effects the balanced calendar could have on the many support organizations that serve as an underpinning for the community fabric. Religious organization camps and the Boy Scouts camps schedule events that fit into the larger national summer schedule.  Often this is in August, especially for Habitat for Humanity (North Broadway United Methodist Church youth group.  Summer, 2001). Many youth sports leagues and activities try to end by the end of July so that families can go on vacation in August. Parents and students would be forced to make an ugly decision, vacation or participation.  Many students participate in the Ohio State Fair exhibits and competitions, and also work there. The fair always runs in August and the state of Ohio is not going to change that schedule.  It is possible that many youth services such as volunteers at the library and at city park recreation centers, for instance, could see reduced participation.             

5.11. There are many alternatives to Year-Round School (Best Educational Practices)

  A brief review of recently published media reports revealed that schools identified as "outstanding," "pioneering," and "excellent" have implemented a variety of strategies to

improve student achievement and attendance.  For the most part, each school's initiative came from a  "best practices" principal, who was  described as innovative, dedicated, dynamic, and committed to long-term involvement with their schools.  These individuals

"sold" their "reform" ideas to their staff, students, and parents, who worked together to successfully implement the changes in their schools.  While not every school implemented every one of these innovations, the combinations they chose have all resulted in markedly increased student academic achievement, test scores, attendance, college admissions, parental involvement, and staff morale and investment.  Some of these programs (e.g., school improvement committees, mandatory student community service, mandatory student internships, etc.) are underway in CPS high schools, but are not part of a more systematic, comprehensive plan at any one high school.  In addition, it should be noted that none of these outstanding schools of excellence have adopted a balanced calendar (YRS) plan. 

Some of the practices used in setting high academic standards and achievement are:

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Eliminating "dumbed down" courses and curricula and "upping the ante" regarding curriculum choices -- usually exceeding local district and state-mandated minimum coursework requirements for graduation (e.g., eliminating all math courses easier than algebra at one school);

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Introducing "slow learners" [sic] to the same material as gifted students;

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Increasing advanced placement (AP) offerings--this was done at every school cited;

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Implementing the "international baccalaureate" (IB) program; 

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Sending interim progress reports every three weeks, to identify at risk students earlier.

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Mandatory "study tables" by every athletic coach for every team member.

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Reinforcing academic excellence, through such activities as "senior appreciation night."

  As a result, all schools have shown significant improvement in standardized test scores. Additionally, many of these schools required increased parental involvement, including:

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Requiring parents to sign contracts and promising to help their children with homework, projects, follow-up to missed assignments, etc.--on a daily basis.  In one school, if parents did not sign the contract, the student did not receive next year's course listings for scheduling. 

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Requiring all parents to volunteer at the school (a minimum of 30 hours per year, at one school).

Facilitating improved communication between teachers and parents, by:

bulletMandatory, daily use of the school's website by teachers to list daily course assignments, by attendance offices to list not only daily school attendance but also individual class attendance (including late entry to classes), by administrators to list the school calendar and all calendar or scheduling changes, etc.;
bulletUtilizing e-mail by teachers to contact parents, by parents to contact teachers, and by students (and their parents) to check on homework assignments;
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Utilizing voice mail systems so parents could more readily contact individual teachers directly;

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Survey and town meetings to seek, encourage, and reinforce parent input in all matters pertaining to the school--both positive and negative;

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Increasing parental power in the operation of the school itself, by encouraging participation on committees overseeing school improvement, curriculum, scheduling, discipline, attendance, teacher training, etc.

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Sending out "customer satisfaction surveys" to families of all students.

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Requiring students to volunteer and perform community service.  Some schools offer Wednesday afternoons for this activity.

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Soliciting community involvement, grants, and aid by forming business partnerships and increasing community leaders' and local business owners' involvement in the schools through volunteerism, utilizing resources, providing student internships, etc.

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Demanding better student attendance by implementing "no tolerance" policies, such as:•   hiring site-based truancy officers (one for each school);

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Prosecuting truant students and parents of truants;

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Implementing reward systems for good attendance.

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Promoting and celebrating only diversity, self-esteem, and individual talents of all students.

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Utilizing technology more effectively for instruction of students, by incorporating use of the web into lesson plans for all classes;

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Improved parent communication (see above);

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Improved follow-up for ill students (to check on daily assignments, projects, etc.).

Making the school building itself a more welcoming and inclusive environment by:

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Providing options for parents and adults in the community to access the school's resources regarding college and career options;

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Opening the school's fitness facilities to the public;

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Removing the counter (a physical and psychological barrier) in the school office.

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Planning events, meetings, conferences, etc., at times and locations convenient for parents and to accommodate working parents' schedules:

 1.Scheduling conferences early in the morning before school, later in the evenings, or on Saturday mornings (e.g., providing a Saturday morning breakfast for parents of incoming freshmen); 

2. Arranging for parent meetings, parent-teacher conferences, etc., in the community (e.g., for free ice cream night at a local McDonald's; for gourmet food tasting at a local grocery store; etc.);

3. Visiting the homes of students at least once a year (usually by teams of two teachers), to discuss the student's future goals and objectives, to plan the next year's schedule, etc.

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Supporting and celebrating the arts (visual and performing), encouraging all students to participate in all aspects of the arts in their school, and expanding cultural offerings.

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  Instituting and enforcing stricter discipline practices, including:                 1. attendance; 
2. dress codes; 
3. respect for each other, themselves, teachers, administrators, 
     and their school; 
4. holding parents accountable for their students' behavior at school.

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 Implementing teacher mentoring of every student, by assigning about 20 students to each teacher, and requiring weekly meetings between each student and his or her faculty advisor.  Some schools added an extra period to the day for this, while others dedicated Wednesday afternoons to this activity (as well as for community service, tutoring, etc.).

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 Implementing MANDATORY tutoring for every student, either:
1. before or after school;
2.  lunch time;
3.  regular, individual "tutoring" periods (an extra class period each day).

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At risk students usually receive tutoring for at least one hour everyday.

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  Investing in books so that students can read for pleasure.  

Stephen Krashen, Professor of Education, University of Southern California, USA Today, July 26, 2001 notes that  "The evidence is clearly mixed on whether summer school (YRS) helps struggling students…There may be an easier way. It has been firmly established that recreational reading has a powerful effect on language and literacy development…reading for pleasure has a stronger impact on increasing reading test scores than time spent on traditional "skill building" Krashen suggests in a separate Letter to the Editor in USA Today on July 27th  that  Chicago spend the $29 million on lots of books since the availability of reading materials is typically limited for struggling students, many of whom live in low income neighborhoods where books are not as readily available at home or in the community.

  The most common practices implemented by outstanding schools include all of the following:  high academic standards; a college preparatory core curriculum for every student; high qualified teachers; strong mentoring for new teachers; partnerships between parents and schools; administrators and teachers who know each student; high attendance rates.

  A final Best Practice comes from the NEA which noted that  "Students benefit by remembering the links binding our syllabi, and Linda Nilson (Clemson University) offers us a graphic syllabus, resembling a flow chart. It won the 2001 "Bright Idea Award" from The POD Network and appeals to visual learners."

"There are several reasons for giving serious attention to the syllabus. A rigorous syllabus enhances student learning by improving the way we teach our courses. " (The Humble Syllabus as Creative Catalyst by Mike Strada, West Liberty State College)

Exemplary Syllabi are available on the Internet, http://www.nea.org/he/advo-new/thriving.html, June 2001

  References for this Alternatives Section

  "How to fix your high school," January 18, 1999.  www.usnews.com.

  "Outstanding High Schools," U.S. News and World Report.  January 18, 1999. www.usnews.com.

  "Time Schools of the Year," Time.  May 21, 2001.  www.time.com.

5.12.  The WHS Exploratory Process Was Weak

  While many of the authors oppose year-round school, we agree that in the interest of improving academics at Whetstone, the year-round school option was "explored".  However, we contend the methodology was a bit weak, some authors suggest outright that it was flawed.   

  Whether flawed or weak, the WHS administrators, and CPS officials in general,  might take note of one report by Carolyn Shields and Steven Lynn Orberg, (viewed by many as proponents of YRS) in the Canadian Journal of Education entitled "Choice and Voice in School Calendar Reform."    In the report the authors outline several steps schools should use in their investigation of YRS, or other reforms as well.    The report details how two Ontario elementary schools implemented a modified year-round calendar and it "shows the importance of choice and voice in change processes."  

The highlights are bulleted below, with most not being employed by the WHS "exploratory" process.

·               Schools in the Ontario School system were given the option of developing and implementing alternative school-year calendars.

·               To be considered, the schools had to demonstrate a "high level" of support from teachers, parents, and students.   The District required 80% parental support.  One of the two schools that opted for YRS even required a 100% survey return rate on surveys asking for parent's opinions about if they supported YRS.   The report notes that 100% survey return  rate was achieved through the intensive efforts of a group of supportive parents.

·               A new calendar could not add substantially to a schools operating cost, so only schools with air conditioning were considered.

·               Busing costs could not increase substantially.

·               No teacher would be forced in a modified-calendar school or on a modified schedule.

Only two schools achieved the required support.  And in each case, notes the report, the impetus for calendar change had come from parents. It should be noted that there are few parents, if any,  clamoring for year-round school at Whetstone.  Until this issue surfaced in May, YRS was unfamiliar to most WHS students.  Furthermore, only a tiny fraction of the parents (estimates of 50 to 70 at both May parent meetings) were surveyed during the two parent meetings.  Some surveys, parents report, were not even collected.  

One of the schools implemented a modified or balanced calendar while also maintaining a conventional school calendar.  The other school choose to start school two weeks early and have a week break in October and in May, in addition to the traditional breaks.   Neither of these options resemble what WHS was pushing for, nor were options offered or encouraged. 

It appears that there were two different surreys.   Several parents remember the only way to express your disapproval of the proposal was to answer that you would remove your student from WHS if it went to YRS.  Another parent who's survey wasn't collected clearly shows no such question.  (See sample survey and letter to school board member from a local resident, who says he hasn't made up his mind about YRS)

The two Ontario schools also used a different leadership model in their process. They used a project leader who disseminated information and answered questions at public information meetings.   The report explains  "The presence of the project leader permitted principals to remain relatively neutral and facilitate a collaborative, exploratory process.  (We have found elsewhere, the authors say, that when principals must respond to questions and correct misinformation about YRS, they are perceived to be advocates, pushing for a particular outcome [Shields & Larocque, 1997; Shields & Osberg, 2000].)"  At Whetstone's three public/parent meetings, the intent of the principal and his staff was clear --- to persuade parents and the community to his point of view.   There was no project leader and little parental leadership on the subject.

The report goes on to say that each school council spent time educating teachers and parents and requesting input.   Little time has been spent on educating parents in the WHS community.    In fact, we suggest that at the risk of being criticized for sounding our own horn,  we can't help but point out one little bit of irony:  that this parent opposition group has done more to educate parents and the community than WHS administration has. 

In fact, we feel our involvement is warranted and required.   The same authors of  "Choice and Voice in School Calendar Reform" cite the following: " Several researchers emphasize the need to increase parents' involvement in decision   making.  Fullan (1999) claims that 'in too many cases, parents and the community are actually outsiders" (p 61) .  Coleman (1998) asserts that ' collaboration with parents in        building active communities of learners' is the 'most important task facing the school in the immediate future.' " Very important in the report is the citation that Fullan finds that "success also improves when decision-makers actively purse, and remain accountable for, parental involvement." Also of significance is that the journal article points out that that several researchers (Fullan, 1999); Hargreaves & Fullan, 1998 and Pounder, 1998) emphasize the parents, teachers, and educational leaders " must work collaboratively if reform is to be successful.

The reports discussion suggests that  "Successful change requires extensive communication, consultation, and planning.   Offering flexible arrangements and choice may also enhance its acceptability.....Participants were pleased that each school council had been permitted to design its own calendar rather than having to adopt a district imposed modification.    The district was also careful to build adequate support for the change by setting a very high threshold (80%) for approval..."

All in all, even articles like this that detail schools that have successfully implement YRS, tells us that there is a right way and a wrong way to go about what many perceive as a radical change.  WHS tends to be more on the wrong side of doing it, even though their intentions were honorable.

6.   The Risk of YRS at Whetstone Outweigh Any Claimed benefits

6.1.  YRS Divides Communities

  There are many risks associated with Year Round School.  Some come even before it is implemented, simply because it is such a divisive issue as noted in an effort to retain the conventional calendar in Virgina. 

The website, "DreamServers," posts a site for "Suffolk [County, Virginia] Parents for a Traditional School Year."  On this site is an on-going e-mail discussion regarding the results of a recent change in the local traditional school calendar to that of a year-round format.  It is apparent that this issue has split this community apart, all the way to the PTA organization, in which ballot-stuffing and other voting irregularities caused a recent (May 2001) PTA election to be declared null and void, necessitating a second election to be held, under closer scrutiny.  Parents on this site express sorrow and dismay in their discussion of this issue.  It can be concluded that these are parents who care about their children, their families, and their schools.   One father stated that he is selling his house so his children do not have to worry about losing school time during court-mandated visitations with their non-custodial mother, who lives out of the district.  
[This site may be found at: http://books.dreambook.com/jhartline/yrs.htm] 

 
Claims of racism and elitism have already filtered into the public discussion of year-round schools at Whetstone, as noted in some recent letters to the editor. 

6.2.  YRS Puts Student Summer Incomes at Risk

Employers will choose the student who can work the entire summer over those that must cut short their employment. The net result will be that year round school students may not be offered many jobs. This income from summer jobs is what many teenagers rely on to fund their school year activities such as clothes, movies, cars, and to put aside for their college education. 

Employers will choose the student who can work the entire summer over those that must cut short their employment.  The result is that some parents may pick up this additional cost.  Those that cannot afford it won't and their children may be left to wander the streets. Moreover, many parents have told us that the bulk of their students' income comes during a full summer vacation.

What employer would want to hire kids for 40 hours/week for just 3 weeks?  No company that is accountable to stockholders can afford to train a new hire for 1-2 weeks, for only 3 weeks employment. One parent's view as noted in the Personal Position statements section, notes that his senior student recently required a 3-week training program in order to gain experience in the summer working in a manufacturing environment.  The parent concludes that this job would not be available to someone with only 6 weeks of work time.

Moreover,  WHS staff has already stated that the student/employee will forget their training once they return to WHS during the next school period and have to be retrained by the employer again during the next intercession, and then the next, and the next…. How could any company afford to hire YRS students for a just a 3 week intersession or a shortened summer break of just 6 weeks. The summer period will offer no greater incentive to business.

In addition to camps, the Ohio State Fair could be lost opportunity for some.  Many students visit the fair not only for the obvious food and fun, but to participate in exhibit competitions.

6.3.   YRS Puts the Entire Community At Risk 

Many residents in the area have expressed concerns to us and in letters to the editor that YRS is a bad idea for Clintonville and the surrounding area.  Parents look for a conventional school calendar will move elsewhere. Parents will loose their choice of a neighborhood school under the proposal and if they don't move, could well send their children to private or parochial schools.  Typically, these would be high achieving students whose flight could have a negative impact of the overall performance at WHS. 

6.4.    Year-Round School May Promote Inequality   

  Inequities in year-round school programs have been identified to occur most often between single and multi-track systems

Results of various research studies indicate the potential for segregation across socioeconomic, ethnic, and racial lines between single and multi-track programs.  A review of available reports indicates that students in single track, year-round schools show higher academic achievement and higher test scores on the SAT than those in multi-track programs.  Within the multi-track system itself, those students whose tracks provide a 5-6 week summer break show greater achievement than those whose track offers a 5-6 week break in the winter.  Interestingly, the majority of those students enrolled in the tracks offering a long summer break tend to come from families in higher socioeconomic brackets and have parents who are highly educated.  The majority of those students enrolled in the tracks offering a long winter break (i.e., "off-year") tend to come from families in the lowest socioeconomic brackets, have less educated parents, and tend to represent higher percentages of racial and ethnic minorities (including Hispanics, African Americans, non-English speaking groups, etc.).  

In addition, the Mitchell study found that more highly educated and experienced teachers work during the YRS track offering a longer summer break, while the least educated and experienced teachers work during the track offering the less desirable break schedule.

A review of available reports indicates that students whose parents represent higher socioeconomic groups and who are more highly educated more often successfully fight year-round school proposals and represent fewer students enrolled in year-round schools (i.e., are more often enrolled in schools following a traditional school year calendar), while students

whose parents represent lower socioeconomic groups and who are less educated more often are

enrolled in year-round school programs.  Naylor reported that, "Year-round schools are predominantly in disadvantaged communities in many American districts. . . . The evidence appears to be that year-round schools are politically unacceptable in wealthier areas, and that arguments for educational gains are not taken seriously by the vast majority of private

schools." 

 

Studies comparing student academic achievement between year-round school programs and those following more traditional school year calendars show no statistically significant differences between the two calendars.  This was confirmed by an exhaustive, two-year study commission by the North Carolina Department of Education.  The North Carolina study did reveal that differences occur when the quality of instructional time is increased, not when the quantity of instructional time is increased.  A second study, cited by Newland, found that "the net effect of summer vacation [on learning loss] was close to zero. . . . Concepts, researching skills, math concepts, grammar, and similar things . . . are relatively unaffected by the summer break."

The Mitchell study concludes that, "The driving force behind. . .demographic, resource, and achievement segregation. . . is parental choice. . . . Parental choice determines location of residence and enrollment on a particular attendance track.  In most districts, . . . the opportunity to exert choice within the YRE school is determined by a sign-up queue.  Spaces are allotted in the order in which they are requested so that some tracks fill before others due to the popularity of the vacation schedule of a given track on programs and services offered.  Preferred attendance track openings are scarce commodities, creating competitive access to them."

7.   Looking Ahead

7.1. Feasibility Study

  It is understood that the Superintendent has decided that a feasibility study will be conducted. We applaud this effort and wish that an objective one would have been done before WHS officials began their push for YRS at Whetstone.   We ask that one or more authors of this report and perhaps many more community members be involved in such a study.  We believe that such diversity will only serve to insure that the entire scope of the issue is examined openly, honestly and fairly.  We are particularly concerned that without a diverse, balanced committee, the proponents who began the first effort might repeat early efforts that we view as misguided.

We believe this will demonstrate to the community at large that we can "all play on the same playground"; it will further demonstrate a commitment to the goal of raising hope, trust, and confidence in Columbus Public Schools.   Notwithstanding, many authors and members of this group have valuable business experience that could be of benefit to the effort.

7.2. Petition Effort

  The grassroots organization WhetstonePays started a petition effort on July 4, 2001, in order to show local school officials and board members that there is no consensus for year-round school.  To date, the effort has collected signatures throughout the community from parents, students, local business owners, alumni and registered voters in the district.  The effort came in response to claims by WHS administrators that only a handful of people opposed YRS.  Our petition effort continues today by many members directly and indirectly involved with this effort.   A copy of a petition may be found in the appendix.

7.3. Media

  The controversy this issue as stirred up in the community is evident by newspaper articles, letters to the editor, and editorials by the Dispatch,  Booster, and  This Week in Clintonville and Beechwold.  A sample of those articles can also be found in the appendix.

 

Grassroots Web Sites

Check out these other Web sites built by individuals or grassroots groups around the nation in opposition to school calendar change and in support of the traditional school year.

http://www.geocities.com/weswalker99/
This comprehensive web site was compiled by an Arizona family that led grassroots efforts against a year-round calendar in their community. It is a must-read for anyone studying the year-round school issue. It posts and links to many important studies.

http://whetstonepays.virtualave.net/
grassroots group in Ohio

http://tiger.nwsc.k12.ar.us/technol/mwidder/mwidder.htm
(Mark Widder's web page-Prarie Grove, Ark.)

http://sites.netscape.net/par3.qw/sosmeridian
SOS Citizens Group - Meridian Idaho

http://home.earthlink.net/~traditionalschoolyr/
Suffolk Parents for a Traditional School Year

http://www.geocities.com/balancedcalendar/
Toledo, Ohio Parents against a Balanced Calendar

http://www.geocities.com/noyreatbohn/noyreatbohn.html
grassroots group in Tracy, Calif.

http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Village/8205/index.html 
(Williamson County ,Tenn., "School for All Seasons" Information Web Site)

 http://cayre.homestead.com/Welcome.html
(Citizens Against Year Round Education - Polk County, Fla.)

http://www.overlord.com/~dcoe/ed/yre_ED342107.html

http://www.asd.wednet.edu/yre.htm

http://www.kentuckyconnect.com/heraldleader/news/mon/n14year.html

http://www.geocities.com/balancedschoolcalendar
Thomasville, Ga. web site