Along with children's report cards from Jefferson County Schools this week, parents found a questionnaire regarding the possibility of changing from a traditional calendar to a balanced calendar for upcoming school years.
After attending the meeting of the Board of Education where the idea was discussed, I can say that I was not convinced that a balanced calendar is the way to go for Jefferson County. No definitive benefit was outlined during the presentation; rather, parents and community members are left to their own devices to determine if they should cast an approving nod by doing their own research.
It appeared initially at the meeting that the Board, or at least the Superintendent, had hopes to push through a calendar change for the upcoming year. That momentum changed when audience members had more questions than answers about how the change would be implemented and what effect it would have on the community as a whole.
We at the Chronicle encourage the Board of Education to take this potential move slowly if at all. It is our opinion that changing to a balanced calendar (year-round) would be detrimental to the many extracurricular activities that students are involved in throughout the year and predominantly in the summer months.
It would be difficult at best for youth to attend such things as 4-H camps, Bible camps, band camps and festivals and other similar activities planned specifically for summer. Other jurisdictions that do not function on a balanced calendar schedule (and there are only four schools in the state that do so) would not change things to accommodate Jefferson County students. It would be difficult, too, for students to secure summer employment when the job would only last a matter of weeks. This would be true as well for teachers and the staffers who work throughout the summer to supplement income.
While the notion of schools providing a "babysitting service" for parents has reared its head in the days since the Board of Education announced they were looking at this change, the Chronicle does not count having to find child care on a changing schedule as a top priority factor in making any calendar determination. Working parents will have to secure child care no matter what the calendar is and as long as there is adequate notice of any change, there should not be an issue.
That adequate notice of change is the key to this issue. There is no feasible way, in our opinion, that the Board can make a move to a major calendar change for the next school year and we encourage them to not even consider such a change. Everything from air conditioning in buses to summer camp needs to be considered before such a move can be made and we feel that the time from November to February or March when the calendar has to be submitted to the state is not sufficient time to address any of the issues in full.