Academic journal article Education

The Effect of Year-Round Schooling on Administrators

Academic journal article Education

The Effect of Year-Round Schooling on Administrators

Article excerpt

We began this study after hearing many anecdotal comments about exhaustion and burn-out among year-round multi-track administrators. For example, one administrator related that she had been a year-round elementary principal for three and a half years prior to moving to the district office. Now, her highest concern with the year-round program is with administrator burnout. When she was a year-round principal, her longest vacation was just two weeks.

Another administrator spoke about his experience, serving as a year-round middle school principal where he had formerly taught on a year-round schedule. After the first two years in a year-round setting he said,

   ... my head was spinning. I never, ever, had a break. In fact, in the eight
   years I was in a year-round schedule, a week-and-a-half off was the most
   time I ever took. There is virtually no clown-time. As one track leaves for
   a break, a new track comes in.

   Two other administrators shared similar stories:

   My experience was, in the five years I was doing it, there was never time
   when I could get a vacation. There was only a two week period when all the
   kids are gone--but that is when administrators need to plan. Year-round is
   never ending. You must live a no-break lifestyle ... stress is
   internalized. Most administrators are professional enough not to let it
   show, but it is felt inside. I think there is a tendency for administrators
   to be less enthusiastic about routine things. I hear and witness the
   frustration more at that level.

Several administrators noted that when one school year runs into the next, they find themselves going through the motions without that opportunity for self-assessment and planning for the future of the educational program. One administrator stated that he did not use a single vacation day the first two years that he was on a year-round schedule. When he was threatened with divorce, he took a week off but said that "vacations are not the same anymore." For he and his family, vacations are not necessarily something that they plan and look forward to as much as they have become a matter of survival.

Similar concerns have been voiced in the professional literature. Quinlan et al. (1987) stated that a year-round program "exacts a brutal toll on administrators." Goldman (1990) called the experience "a merry-go-round with no starting or ending." Rodgers (1993) found that principals have a full month for vacation but often only take a few clays here and there due to school being open year round. These concerns were confirmed in an exploratory survey we conducted of twenty-two administrators in one year-round school district. About a fifth take less than ten vacation days per year; another fifth take vacation days in one- or two-day increments throughout the year.

In sum, while we had no doubts about the ability of administrators to manage year-round schools for a few years, we were worried about the long-term personal consequences.

We were also worried about the effect of multi-track year-round education on schools and communities. When one group of teachers and students is always "off-track," every school event must be scheduled more than once in order to accommodate those not present. As one year-round principal put it, "We've got some serious communications problems. It's kind of difficult to keep a cohesive staff when you've got a chunk of folks not there." On the other hand, when all children attended school during the nine month calendar--which has come to be known as "the school year"--if a neighbor or policeman saw a child playing out on the street in October, that community member would often urge the child to get to school. Now, with the different tracks of year-round schooling, community members don't know whether a child should be in school or not. While year-round schools can issue students ID cards, showing when they should be in school, supporters of the traditional school year feel there is a loss in community support when the public sees students out on the streets throughout the year. …

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