The year-round school schedule going in at Maeser Elementary School isn't the same as the one now on hold for Canyon Crest Elementary School.
Year-round school is kind of a generic term.Sure, it means children don't have summers off. They go to school on and off virtually every month of the year.
To more accurately describe a year-round system, the word "year-round" should be preceded by either "single-track" or "multi-track." Making that distinction gives one a clue as to why a particular school is on a particular schedule.
Four-track schedules are designed to handle an influx of children into a neighborhood. "In a high-growth area it will help accommodate growth," says Kathy Hughes, curriculum administrator for Provo School District. Another function of the system is to ease overcrowding.
Those are the basic reasons the Provo School Board wanted to put Canyon Crest on that schedule.
After a fight between the board and parents who opposed the change, the board has called for a yearlong truce, during which a committee will study the year-round schedule and other alternatives to ease overcrowding.
Under the system, there are fewer children in school at any one time because the four tracks rotate in and out. While three tracks are on, one is off. Hughes said the schedule alleviates crowding in hallways, lunchrooms and other areas of the school. Children typically attend class for 45 days and then take a 15-day break.
A single-track schedule is geared toward enhancing educational opportunities for children described by educators as "at risk." Children coming from low-income households, parents who receive aid to families with dependent children and children who are in a low academic range are considered "at risk," Hughes said.
Areas with high concentrations of those types of children are candidates for single-track, year-round school, she said. The number of special education students within a community is also a factor, Hughes said.
Provo Superintendent Kay Laursen said "at risk" students are those that teachers believe are likely to fall behind the class in basic subjects such as math or reading.
To help those children along, the school offers classes during the break or intercession period. Teachers write letters to parents of children deemed eligible, inviting them to enroll their children in the intercession courses, Laursen said. It's a way of getting them caught up academically.
The other major difference between single- and multi-track systems is that on the one-track schedule, the entire student body attends school and goes on break at the same time. Provo children on single-track schedule also go to class for 45 days and then have 15 off.
Maeser will join Joaquin Elementary School as Provo's two single-track, year-round schools.
Sunset View, Timpanogos and Westridge elementaries are the multi-track, year-round schools in the city.