More and more Washington schools are beginning to explore the pros and cons of a balanced school calendar, a move that would drastically change the traditional summer break but could prove to be useful for learning retention.
South Kitsap recently became the latest district to enter that conversation after director John Berg on March 1 proposed the board examine the change’s feasibility. Any action would be unrealistic for months, but Berg said it was important to begin the conversation. “This would be a good thing to set aside as a work-study issue. We need to gather some data, and we need to get some discussion and get some public input,” he said.
While a typical school year in this state is made up of 180 days concentrated into nine or 10 months, a balanced school calendar would spread out the same number of days more evenly across the entire year.
Berg clarified the discussion is not about year-round school, which he said would involve increasing the amount of time in the classroom. “It would be up to the legislature if they want to provide for more than 180 days of school a year,” he said. A balanced school year “is basically shortening the summer break and increasing the spring break, perhaps providing an additional break in the fall.”
Such a calendar would combat learning loss caused by the long summer vacation. Berg said that spreading out the learning year would also remedy burnout. “We noticed this particularly during the pandemic, the very stressful situations, and having more breaks during the school year provides for a little less stress,” he said.
The other board members expressed an interest in exploring the new format, but board president Jeffery Wilson said it may not take priority for a while due to budget complications and the latest bond proposal.
Some board members would like to see it discussed sooner. Director Jeff Daily, who rarely takes sides with Berg, said he liked the idea. “We don’t need another year of burnout. We don’t need another year of testing issues. We need to fix it,” he said.
The board requested data on the calendar’s feasibility and is expected to continue the discussion April 19. Superintendent Tim Winter said, “I think it’s the way we’re going eventually, and I think we can start working on it now.”