SLC schools to drop year-round schedule

Education • Six elementaries will switch to save money.
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Salt Lake City School District is ditching the year-round calendar. Next year, the district's six year-round elementaries — Bennion, Franklin, Meadowlark, Parkview, Rose Park and Whittier — will switch to a traditional school year.

The change means all elementary and secondary schools will have a common calendar, sharing start and end dates and breaks. As a result, the district estimates it will save $128,000 a year in busing costs, consolidated teacher training and other expenses.

On Tuesday, the Salt Lake City Board of Education approved the common calendar in a 5-2 vote. The board also discussed the potential of losing $2 million to $12 million in state funds next school year, depending on the outcome of the 2011 Legislature.

A district survey at five of the six schools found that 80 percent of parents and 86 percent of employees favor the year-round format. However, 87 percent of parents expressed support for adopting a common calendar to save money, while 50 percent of employees did.

"I still think we need to honor what these schools want," said board member Rosemary Emery, who voted against the common calendar, along with Alama Uluave. "We should have some school choice."

The six elementaries are all Title I schools that, years ago, chose the extended-year schedule, which features three two-week breaks throughout the year, to see if it would boost student achievement. But when the district recently compared test scores in those schools with its other Title I elementaries, it found no benefit. In fact, students in the year-round schools had slightly lower scores in some areas.

"It's hard to say we're putting students first if we're continuing with something that isn't proving to be successful for our students," board member Amanda Thorderson said. "We're looking at cuts, [and] I'm having a hard time seeing where we're going to get the money from without making serious slashes to everything in the Salt Lake City School District."