Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Year-Round School Experiment Over

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Year-Round School Experiment Over

Article excerpt

Duval County's seven-year experiment with year-round schooling,

a national trend heralded as a way to relieve overcrowded

schools and boost student learning, ended quietly last night

with a unanimous vote by the School Board.

Board members agreed the nine remaining Jacksonville schools on

modified calendars could return to a traditional school year

beginning this fall. The schools, based on surveys of their

faculties and parents, had sought the change.

Last night's vote means all of Jacksonville's 150 public

schools will open this fall at the same time, a first since the

fall of 1991.

That's good news for parents, particularly those tired of

juggling different school calendars for their children, said

Merrie Smith, PTA president at Mandarin Middle School, which

went to a modified calendar in 1992.

"It's made it hard to plan vacations or family time together,"

Smith said.

Under a modified calendar, students gave up their long summer

breaks for more frequent, shorter breaks during their school

year. They attended the usual 180 days altogether but went for

60-day sessions, with 15-day breaks in between.

Proponents, like School Board member Stan Jordan, said modified

calendars provided the chance for students to get remedial help

during the breaks, as well as eliminating the need to bring kids

back to academic speed after long summer breaks.

And schools on modified calendars could go to multiple tracks,

meaning students go to schools in groups that start and stop at

different times. So some students are always on break, freeing

classroom space.

School officials yesterday said the modified calendars served

their purpose in relieving overcrowding, but that the effects on

student achievement were "inconclusive."

Charles Cline, associate superintendent of instruction, said

test scores improved in some schools that switched to modified

calendars but not in all. …

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