SALT LAKE COUNTY — The Jordan School District has the chance to save money by doing something you wouldn’t expect in high-growth areas. They’re shifting a few schools from year-round to traditional schedules. This is the latest in a growing shift away from year-round schools in Utah.
Wendy Hill’s family lives in the Jordan School District, and at their home, school is a year-round event. So when Hill learned she might have an option to have her five kids on a traditional schedule, she was thrilled. “I would love for the schools to go to traditional, for the elementary school to go to a traditional calendar.” That’s because for them, being on the same schedule just makes sense, Hill said. “They end up missing school for reunions and for trips that we have planned in the summer, so I think their attendance would be better at school.”
You save around $100,000 in operational costs. So that's what you're looking at roughly the difference between running a traditional calendar versus a year-round calendar.
–Brad Sorensen, Jordan School District administrator
The Jordan District will consider input like hers as it considers shifting the schedules of a few schools. Boundary changes and a new school have opened up space in massive elementary schools that once had more than 1,200 students. But space isn’t the only factor, Jordan School District Administrator Brad Sorensen said. “You save around $100,000 in operational costs. So that’s what you’re looking at roughly the difference between running a traditional calendar versus a year-round calendar.”
That saves them $100,000 per school per year. And for a school district still trying to balance growth and funding while bouncing back from a district split a few years ago, officials say it’s their way to build trust with the community.
Jordan is the latest in a series of districts, including Granite, Salt Lake and Davis, that are phasing out year-round schools because of costs. Some had opted for year-round for academic reasons, believing students would perform better without a long summer break. But Sorensen says those gains didn’t materialize.
“It really shows that kids tend to do similar – that the track really isn’t making a difference,” he said. So while they can, Sorensen says they’ll ask parents for their preferences. “I think the board is very receptive to listening to what the patrons want — I think as a whole we’re always looking — the preference is a traditional calendar.”