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OKCPS considers school calendar system at upcoming board meeting

OKLAHOMA CITY - Oklahoma City Public Schools went to a continuous school calendar in 2011.

Since then, it's been up for debate a few times. This year is no different.

Part of the debate? Teacher retention and saving the school district money.

Last year, there was the same debate - To stay with the continuous school calendar or find an alternative for the more than 40,000 students in Oklahoma City Public Schools.

"Last year, we approved it for one more year, and this year I'm recommending we stay with that for an extra year,” said Aurora Lora, Superintendent for Oklahoma City Public Schools.

The continuous learning calendar includes an early start date, but longer breaks in the fall, winter and spring.

A survey of students, staff and the community showed a majority prefer a continuous learning calendar.

Lora says the current system could be a perk to keeping teachers in the district.

"Especially in the state of Oklahoma, we are having challenges with retaining teachers and anything we can do to make sure teachers want to stay,” Lora said.

But, one board member we spoke with wants the school district to start the school year later, saying it could cut utility costs.

"We only have estimates. That would only actually generate true savings if we completely turned off the electricity and the air conditioner and no one went into the building," the board member said.

She also says a later start date would mean more students showing up to class at the beginning of the year. Something she says is a problem with the continuous learning calendar.

Another board member just wants students better prepared for standardized tests at the end of the school year.

"My thing is, we need to reduce the days. We'll see if anyone agrees with that. If not, I'll look at both models," Board Member Charles Henry said.

“Whichever model I feel maximizes the numbers of days and hours our children have to learn, I will vote for that model,” Henry said.

One concern for teachers with the traditional calendar is a pay gap in the month of August.

The school board will consider the school calendar at their meeting on Monday.