I live in a suburb of Raleigh, North Carolina, and my children attend year-round school. I have one daughter in a year round middle school, and two daughters in a year round elementary school. This kind of school system has been an option for families here since the early 1990s. Wake County decided to operate any newly build elementary school on a year-round schedule starting in 2007.
In a year-round school, students are organized into four groups, called “tracks”. The schedules for each track are staggered so that at any one time, three tracks are in school and one track is out on break. This system is called a “45/15 Schedule”: students are in school for 45 days, then they’re off for 15, in different cycles throughout the year.
The new school year begins begins the first Monday in July for students on tracks 1, 2 and 3. Students on track 4 start school 15 school days later as students on track 3 “track out” for their first 15 day break. Year-round students get the same holidays off as students in “traditional calendar schools”, and all students are in school for 180 days each year. It’s quite a feat to accomplish that, I think. I’m grateful I don’t have to make the schedules!
My children are on “track 4”, which means that they have 3 week vacations in January, April, July, and October. When my oldest began on track 4, she stayed there, and my subsequent children attending the elementary school were automatically assigned to her same track, without any special forms or influence from me. The only complaint I have about the schedule is that they are out for their longest break in the dead of winter. Christmas vacation begins around the 20th of December, and they don’t go back to school until the third week in January.
Depending on where you live in Wake County, when you register your child for school, you’re usually given a “traditional calendar” school option as well as a “year-round calendar” school option. If you’re only given one or the other, you can easily apply for a transfer to the nearest school that has the calendar you want. There are also a plethora of magnet/special focus schools, private schools, and Montessori schools to choose from.
The Advantages of Year Round:
1. Schools can accommodate approximately 33 percent more students in one school. For every three schools on a multi-track, year-round schedule, one fewer school has to be built.
2. Having year round school lessens the amount of learning loss that occurs after a long summer break. There is not really any conclusive evidence that this type of school schedule has an effect on achievement, but there is less necessity for remediation with shorter breaks.
3. Air conditioning, at least in our schools in Wake County, North Carolina.
1. It can be challenging to make daycare and before/after school care arrangements for track-out periods. However, because of the length of time Wake County has implemented this calendar, there are many options for “track out camps” for children on a year round schedule. The local YMCAs offer the most popular such camp for each track of students each time they track out. The local rollerskating rink also offers a track out camp, There are martial art academies that offer track out camp, some dance studios, and a kids’ cooking school too.
There are a multitude of academic track out camps here, and my second oldest has attended an art track out camp. The camps may be week-long or last the entirety of the track out time and operate from the beginning to the end of the school day, so that working parents don’t have to make any other special arrangements. The businesses that offer track out camp try to keep their prices as affordable and competitive as any summer vacation length daycare/day camp would be for those students whose parents work full time during their long summer break.
2. It can be difficult to schedule around other family members’ summer vacations, and, while not a common problem, the possibility exists for siblings to be scheduled on different tracks or calendars.
3. Inclement weather make-up days are on on Saturdays (half day), because no track can add days to the end of their school year.
My children haven’t ever been in a school that operated on the traditional calendar, so they don’t have any sense of missing out on a three month school break. We spend time at the pool after school in the summer, and we take trips to visit family during their 3 week track out breaks for spring and fall. They enjoy the frequent breaks from academics, and I enjoy having them home often. But like most other families, we’re all ready for them to be back in school when track out is over!
What questions do you have for me as a parent of children that attend year-round school? Has your district suggested or implemented year round schooling? Would you be willing to try it if it was offered?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog from Frelle, in North Carolina. Come visit her at MadeMoreBeautiful.com
Photo credit to www.schoolworkhelper.net