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Classes start at state's few remaining year-round schools

Published: Thursday, July 26 2012 6:25 p.m. MDT

This fall, Granite School District will undergo a similar transition. The district began year-round schools about 20 years ago during a high growth period and it is estimated that over the years the decision saved the district $25 million in administrative costs and another $80 million in schools that weren't built, district spokesman Ben Horsley said.

But in recent years, the number of students in the district has stabilized at around 67,000 students, Horsley said. If the district had elected to build more facilities and keep the traditional schedule, students today would be attending half-empty schools.

He also said there was no indication that the schedule was helping students perform better in class and by ending year-round schools, the district will see an annual savings of $900,000.

Besides the cost, Horsley said year-round schools can be particularly difficult for families with multiple children. The district held an online survey and more than 70 percent of parents supported moving to a traditional schedule, he said.

"We've looked at this from all angles to see if there was any advantage to keeping year-round schools," Horsley said. "We felt confident moving forward, knowing we could adjust our boundaries if necessary."

But many people, namely teachers and administrators at year-round schools, see an advantage in the longer school year. Daybreak Elementary Principal Doree Strauss said with a traditional calendar, teachers spend time reviewing old information in the fall and by spring are burned out and "holding on for dear life."

"I think it favors the student side because it gives them the breaks but they're not losing the information," she said. "For planning purposes it's nice too, because they can plan for a nine-week block."

Ann Noble, a fourth-grade teacher at Daybreak, agreed. She also mentioned burnout and said she likes having breaks throughout the year.

"As a teacher, I love year-round," she said. "I don't think I'd ever want to go back to traditional."

E-mail: benwood@desnews.com

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