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OKCPS votes to change school calendar

OKLAHOMA CITY - The state's largest district has voted to scrap its year-round school setup.

For the last seven years, Oklahoma City students have started school earlier - and gotten out for summer later. District leaders said the so-called "continuous learning" plan just doesn't work.

"When we start off a year where 3,000 of our kids have missed three or more days of school before the 15th of August, we've got a problem there," said Superintendent Dr. Sean McDaniel.

McDaniel talking about attendance problems at Oklahoma City public schools under their current continuous learning calendar.

Monday night, the school board meeting to discuss and vote on changing the schedule that has been in place since 2011.

"It was not the fact that this calendar did not work; it was the fact that this district did not implement what was necessary in order for it to work," said school board member Ruth Veales.

Proponents of the current calendar said it helps keep the students learning and cuts back on summer slide. Opponents point out increased utility costs as school doors are open longer in the summer.

"I urge you board members to make this decision with the academic needs of our students in mind, not the money saved on the air conditioning bill," said Southeast High teacher Garron Park.

The OKCPS School Board voted 6-1 to accept a new "hybrid" three-year plan that starts school August 12 and gets out before Memorial Day, closer to other Oklahoma districts.

The new plan also provides two more weeks of summer break and a full week for Thanksgiving, but it cuts spring and fall breaks from two weeks each to one.

"That's a lot of extra quality time they can spend preparing for state testing," said school board member Charles Henry.

The new plan also has no specific time for intersession, but the superintendent said after-school tutoring will now be offered at each and every elementary school in the district.

"We think that we have done a really good job of assessing what would work, and what has not worked and to provide a plan that puts our kids in a pretty good spot," McDaniel said.