Balanced Calendar: Yes or No?
By Sarah Cox & Brooke Flatford
October 21, 2016
For years, a proposed balanced calendar has been heavily debated among teachers, parents, and students. Both sides of the argument bring up valid points about the calendar, which could greatly affect the various lifestyles of students and teachers.
Against the Balanced Calendar
Traditional schooling already takes a toll on students, just imagine what a full year of school would do. Yes, the breaks are longer but so is the schooling time in between the breaks.
One reason we should not move to the balanced calendar, Knox County Schools said they could experience an increase in costs as much as 8.7 million dollars. This would be an effect of a higher demand for operational and transition needs. The school is forced to increase the use of utilities such as heating and air systems, to keep students and faculty comfortable year-round. In addition, supplies, staff, communication, and maintenance costs may increase as well.
As of June, even the former superintendent of Knox County Schools, Jim McIntyre, recommended Knox county schools stay away from a balanced calendar because of the extended year round costs.
The shortened summer breaks can disrupt summer camps in other states and family vacations. This causes an unhappy family or parents who have crazy work schedules as well, making it hard to plan these trips. With the parents not capable of being home to care for their child, they may be forced to pay extra expenses for child care services during the day.
Although summer break is shorter, the balanced schedule calls for longer breaks during the school year. Most of these breaks, or intersessions, happen right in the middle of the semester. This can break student’s focus on what they are learning at the time. Consequently, teachers must waste time re-teaching a topic in class.
According to CNBC News, research shows there is not a difference in learning between the traditional and the balanced calendar. However, this research has not been great enough for any long term conclusions.
For the Balanced Calendar
A balanced calendar may seem like an alarming change, but after looking at real-life modifications, the schedule will not disrupt a student’s academic career. In fact, the new calendar will adjust school life for the better.
The need for continuous learning is the driving force behind the balanced calendar. With the new schedule, students can focus on academics without a long summer break fracturing their concentration.
Three months without schooling can negatively affect reading, spelling, and mathematical skills. Research shows students score lower on standardized tests at the end of a regular summer vacation compared to the beginning. With shorter summer breaks, students are more likely to maintain constant learning, and in effect, they test more successfully.
Many students are worried a balanced calendar would negatively affect athletics, due to longer seasonal breaks and shorter summer vacations. However, after looking at the adaptation made by other schools, there is only minor inconvenience.
Sports teams may deal with difficulties in scheduling games and practices, as a result of long fall and spring breaks. Summer conditioning for fall sports may also be cut short. However, schools on a balanced calendar, such as Oak Ridge and Alcoa High Schools, have learned to comply to the schedule.
Knox County Schools has already begun leaning toward a balance calendar, shown by the structure of this year’s 2016-2017 calendar. The school year began earlier this year on August 8, which is almost a week premature of our usual starting date. In addition, students enjoyed a week long Fall Break, and will appreciate a week long Spring Break in March. Next year’s calendar is framed in an identical fashion.
Although the transition from a traditional to a balanced calendar is a gradual process, students of Knox County Schools are slowly and successfully adapting to the schedule. Once the shift to the balanced calendar is complete, Knox County students will gladly accept the new changes.