Oklahoma City school board considers going back to traditional calendar

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Update: Monday night, the board approved to keep the continuous learning calendar by a vote of 6 to 1.

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma City school board voted to go to the so-called year round calendar in 2010.

The continuous learning calendar sends students back to class two weeks early in August and includes two-week breaks in the fall and spring.

It was supposed to improve academics.

Experts said it helps students with that summer slump by shortening the summer break and allowing longer breaks throughout the year so struggling kids could get extra help.

“It was hoped that the continued learning model would improve grades. Regrettably, it really hasn’t improved grades. And, the reason that they give for that is that the kids that need it the most don’t take advantage of the two weeks of tutoring,” said Oklahoma City District 1 Board Member Bob Hammack.

That’s one argument for going back to the traditional calendar.

Another one is money.

District leaders said going back to the traditional calendar would save the district money because they wouldn’t need to run air-conditioning earlier in the year.

“You know, the chance to save half a million dollars – that’s a lot of money,” Hammack said.

But, in surveys sent out by the committee tasked with studying this, the majority of parents, staff and students said they prefer the current continuous learning calendar.

An overwhelming 71 percent of teachers said they prefer it and it’s a perk not offered by other districts.

“Our HR department says it’s a real neat recruiting tool to tell new teachers that you’re going to get these two-week blocks of time off,” said Ed Allen, president of the teachers’ union, American Federation of Teachers.

Allen said there may be utility cost savings in going back to the traditional calendar but there would also be costs associated with the teachers the district might lose as a result of the change.

“There is a cost when training new employees and when you lose people. There is a cost to that,” Allen said.

Allen said there have been major changes to the calendar about every four years for the last 20 years.

He said another change is just not necessary.

“This is working for teachers, students and parents, so why would you want to mess up a good deal?” Allen said.

Another concern of teachers is they would get one less paycheck.

They would still make the same amount of money, but it would be spread over 23 paychecks instead of 24.

Board members are also considering a hybrid calendar that is a combination of the continuous learning and traditional calendars.

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