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Year-round schedules could get the axe

Year-round schedules could get the axe

By Molly Farmer | Posted - Dec. 17, 2010 at 5:56 p.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Lake City Board of Education will decide Jan. 4 whether the school district's 26 elementary schools will move to a common calendar.

The board discussed switching its six schools currently on a year-round calendar to a traditional calendar in an effort to save money, according to the district.

Before considering the switch, the district compared the academic achievement among its year-round schools to its schools on a traditional schedule and found that schools on the traditional schedule had slightly better test scores, according to the district.

Unlike other districts that have a year-round schedule to accommodate growth and overcrowding, Salt Lake received grant money decades ago to switch six schools to year-round because it was believed to improve academics.

"It's not really having the desired effect," said Jason Olsen, spokesman for the district, so the district is looking to make the switch back.

The district sent out surveys to parents and employees at the schools where schedule changes could take place, and 80 percent of employees and parents are in favor of the year-round schedule, according to the district. It also showed more than 80 percent of parents supported switching to a common calendar if it meant saving money. Only about half the employees supported the switch for monetary purposes, according to the district.

It's estimated the district could save about $128,000 annually if it makes the swap.

The cost savings are found in a variety of ways, including not having to double up on teacher training because some are in school and some aren't, and not having to run additional buses during the summers. Olsen said the district also found that year-round schools tend to have more students who enroll late. Schools have to report their enrollment numbers in October, and the district figures it could make up about $21,000 it loses when year-round student enroll late.

"If we have students showing up after that report goes to the state, we lose that money," Olsen said.

The board will likely vote on the measure at its meeting on Jan. 4. If it votes to eliminate the year-round schedule, Bennion, Franklin, Meadowlark, Parkview, Rose Park and Whittier will begin next school year with the rest of the district's schools on Aug. 24, 2011.

E-mail: mfarmer@desnews.com

Molly Farmer

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