Exploring a Balanced Calendar
As part of our five-year Strategic Roadmap, our focus is creating infinite possibilities for all students. One strategic direction implemented to aid in reaching this goal is "Reimagining Systems and Structures," which drives the exploration of a more balanced school year calendar.
A traditional school year for K-12 students in Washington state spans 180 days of education, with short breaks primarily around holidays and spring break during the school year and a long break each summer. Through a "Balanced Calendar" initiative, the Washington Office of the Superintendent for Public Instruction (OSPI) has supported the work of school districts to explore options that will increase learning opportunities and reduce summer learning loss. To that end, CVSD is taking steps to explore and potentially implement a move toward a more balanced calendar.
What is a balanced calendar?
A balanced calendar spreads the required 180 instructional days across more of the calendar year, rather than concentrating those days over nine months. Depending on the needs of the district and community, a balanced calendar may include additional breaks during fall and mid-winter, moving the school start date earlier into August and/or the end date closer to July.
Why change a good thing?
Balanced calendars are not a new concept, and as more districts research and consider this option, encouraging opportunities are emerging, including but not limited to:
- Decreased learning disruption due to a shorter summer break
- Potential for school breaks to align with grading period cycles
- Expanded options for supplementary learning intervention or enrichment
- Dispersed financial impact on families paying for childcare during school breaks
- Greater flexibility for family vacation planning and for staff schedules to help attract and retain employees
- Sports? Washington’s Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) successfully navigates a variety of school year calendars and has stated its support of districts to determine what works best for their students and communities.
- Graduation Requirements? Graduation requirements remain the same, and high schools would continue to support each student in their pursuit of required credits, graduation pathway fulfillment, and completion of the High School and Beyond Plan.
- Advanced Placement Classes? Testing schedules for special programs will be taken into consideration to facilitate student participation.
How to be involved...
The district will have multiple opportunities for our Central Valley community to participate, whether that is through surveys and/or community meetings.
CVSD will assemble a Balanced Calendar Committee to help guide this work, consisting of the following key stakeholders:
- Parents representing each of the three Small Learning Communities and all school levels (elementary/middle/high school)
- Business and community leaders interested in partnering with CVSD to prepare its students for success in post-secondary pursuits and life
- Teachers and staff
- Administrators representing the district and schools at all school levels (elementary/middle/high school)
- Board members
- Central Valley Education Association (CVEA) leader, Public School Employees of Washington (PSE) Education Support Professionals leader and Central Valley Coaches Association leader
What will the committee do?
- Review and research practices involved with implementing a balanced calendar.
- Determine advantages and disadvantages - see a few examples below.
- Summer learning loss
- Mental and emotional health of students and staff
- Childcare considerations
- School traditions
- Impact on neighboring districts regarding employee schedules
- Demographic impacts such as free/reduced meal program
- Help develop a survey of interest and options related to a balanced calendar for our community.
- Help communicate committee progress.
- Help create a report for presentation at a School Board meeting by Spring 2024.
- Arrive at a recommendation for the School Board's consideration at the March 25, 2024 meeting.
- November, 2023 - Establish committee
- December 14, 2023 - First committee meeting; meeting schedule will be set
- March 25, 2024 - Report findings and recommendations to the CVSD School Board