The Never-Ending School
“The trouble with our times is that the future is not what it used to be.” Everything is constantly changing, our world, our culture, and our education. The fact that the traditional school calendar may have worked many years ago does not mean that it is the best thing for the younger generations today. Concerned parents, teachers and the government are constantly searching for ways to develop the education of schools in America. That is why I am proposing to make the switch from the traditional school calendar to a year-round education. It would eliminate issues such as overcrowding, the costliness of the traditional calendar, and interrupted education.
Year-round education is a modified school calendar that reorganizes the school year to provide more continuous learning by dividing the long summer vacation into shorter, more frequent breaks. It was stated in an article by the NAYRE (National Association for Year Round Education), that at the turn of the century there was over a billion teenagers attending high school. This statistic introduces the question “Where are we going to put them all? Well, by implementing the year round systems there are many different possible solutions to this question. One imparticular would be to revise the class schedules. This advantage has made YRE particularly attractive in areas that are experiencing a rapid rise in population. It is most often applied in schools that are hit the hardest by overcrowding. In order for YRE to increase the capacity of a school, it must operate on a multi-track program. This means that the facility embraces three, four or five different calendars, with a portion of students and faculty assigned to each. The instructional blocks and vacation times are staggered so that there is always a group of students on break. It can increase a school's capacity by as much as 33 percent. This advantage has made year-round education particularly attractive in areas that are experiencing a rapid rise in population. Soccorro Independent School District in El Paso, Texas, began its conversion to year-round education in 1991. School officials looked to YRE to assist in accommodating a rapidly rising enrollment. Using a four-track system, they were able to increase the capacity of the most overcrowded schools by one-third. Based on their success, all of the schools in the district switched to some form of a year-round calendar in the next three years. Soccorro administrators and faculty stress that they consider the reorganization of the calendar to have as many economic benefits as well. By not having to build a new school or add on to an existing facility has been for the most part responsible for the yearly increase in the number of schools switching to a year-round calendar over the past decade.
The chief reason, however, for converting to a year–round education is to avoid the cost of building a new school. Expenses would be incurred for building design, engineering, construction, and furnishing, as well as for infrastructure reconstruction (streets, sewers, water, utilities, and furniture.) In 1987, a study for the California State Board of Education indicated that it would cost nearly $4 million to build a 24-classroom elementary school (720 students), and more than $6 million to build a secondary school addition to accommodate 720 students. The Oxnard (CA) Unified School District converted to year-round education in 1976. In the 1984-85 school year, its elementary enrollment increased by 644 students. If the district had been on the traditional nine-month calendar, it would have needed an additional school, at a cost of $5 million. It is believed that by converting to year-round education the district saved $16 million in new building costs over a 13-year period.
Another example is the Pleasant Valley School District where officials are budgeting $71 million on a building project because classroom space is needed to get their kindergarten kids out of the churches that are currently substituting for their classrooms. That's an important concern, but with the Pleasant Valley Board's wasteful $71 million building program, the kindergarten kids are stuck in the churches for at least two years. However, Implementing year-round schooling now would take the kids out of the churches, and it would do it now, not in two years.