Monday, March 30, 2015 | 2 a.m.
Imagine school without summer break. No 10-week vacation to kick back and relax.
Instead, that break is divided into three-week vacations throughout the year, with classes in session all 12 months.
That’s the model for Clark County School District’s year-round schools.
With another year of record enrollment and an elementary school population so crowded students could fill 23 more schools, the School District has had to choose more schools to become year-round. It has become the temporary solution to ease crowding.
How does it work?
In a typical school schedule, classes begin Aug. 25 and end June 4, followed by a 10-week summer break.
In a year-round school such as Ries Elementary, each grade level is broken down into five tracks, or groupings of students. At any given time, students from four tracks attend school, while those in the fifth track are off for a three-week break.
Despite the year-round schedule, students attend school the same number of days (180) as students who attend schools on a nine-month calendar. The year-round students’ 10-week summer break is broken up as several three-week breaks throughout the year.
What are the costs?
Year-round schools typically aren’t created to save money; rather, they’re a temporary solution to crowded classrooms.
Year-round schools, on average, cost the district more to operate than typical nine-month schools. Portable classrooms, which cost about $70,000 to buy and install, are cheaper, but many campuses have several and still are overcrowded. A multi-track, year-round schedule allows the School District to ease crowding as it waits for more money to build more schools.
$5 million (Cost to run a typical nine-month school in Clark County) + $308,000 (Additional cost to run a year-round school in Clark County, $55,000 for transportation as bus service is offered year-round, $35,000 for utilities, $218,000 for staffing)
Are there benefits to this system?
Day-to-day teaching on a year-round schedule is no different than teaching during a nine-month calendar.
Each teacher is given a classroom and adheres to the same schedule as his or her students. The curriculum is the same as it would be in a school with a traditional schedule.
One potential benefit: In the year-round model, teachers can assess students during the first stretch of classes, then use the break to determine a plan for each student.
Studies are inconclusive on whether year-round schooling benefits children academically. However, researchers have found students in year-round schools do just as well, or slightly better, in academic achievement than students in schools with traditional calendars. Student attendance also typically is higher at year-round schools.
• Shorter breaks mean less opportunity for students to forget what they’ve learned but still allow students and teachers time to recharge.
• Smaller, more manageable class sizes because the number of students who are in school at any given time is split.
• Safer, more navigable campuses because there are fewer children at school.
• Multiple breaks afford more opportunities for remediation classes that can help struggling students. On a nine-month schedule, students would take those classes during summer.
• Can relieve summertime boredom for children and stress on parents.
• Increased costs and more stress on buildings that are inhabited year-round.
• Less time for large maintenance projects and more risk of having to do repairs at night or on weekends, at overtime pay rates.
• Potential difficulty scheduling extracurricular program practices and competitions.
• Teachers might have to share classrooms, making it difficult to store supplies and have a place to work during breaks.
FAQ for parents
Will siblings be on similar schedules?
Maybe. The School District can’t guarantee that siblings will be on the same track, but parents can request it and the school will try to coordinate the siblings’ schedules.
There are no year-round high schools or middle schools, so if a parent has children both in elementary and middle or high school, the siblings will be on different schedules. Parents, however, can receive priority for younger children to be on tracks four or five, which have days off in summer.
I work. Will I be able to find child care during school breaks?
Yes. Clark County community centers offer programs for children on year-round tracks.
Will my child still get time off for holidays?
Yes. Students in year-round schools receive time off for the same nine holidays as students on nine-month schedules, including traditional winter and spring breaks.
A history of school scheduling in Clark County
Year-round schools have existed in the United States since the early 1900s, but they spiked in popularity from the mid-1980s to 2000. During that period, the number of year-round schools grew from 410 to 3,059 nationally.
1971: Herron Elementary is the first school in Clark County to go year-round due to overcrowding.
1979: Tomiyasu Elementary is the second school in Clark County to go year-round.
2008: Ninety schools in Clark County have adopted year-round schedules.
2010: Every school in Clark County returns to a nine-month schedule because of funding shortages.
2012: Clark County school officials ask voters to approve a $669 million property tax increase over six years to pay for school renovations and new campuses. Voters shoot it down, 2-1.
2013: Three Clark County schools return to year-round schedules.
2014: Ten more Clark County schools adopt year-round schedules.
2015: School officials announce 11 more schools will transition to year-round schedules for the 2015-16 school year.