Lincoln, Taylor and Lynn elementary schools in Ogden School District have been chosen for a serious study of a longer school year.
Seven schools applied to be pilots in the district's plan to extend the school year by 20 days, said Ogden Superintendent James West. The three were selected because they "are further along in their planning and more advanced in their thinking," said West.The district will receive $50,000 over three years from the State Office of Education under the terms of a site-based decisionmaking act passed by the 1991 Legislature, West said. Additional money will be available from year-round school funds as the program moves into the implementation stages.
West said the three model sites could possibly be ready to extend the 1991-92 school year, "but a lot of planning needs to be done." Teachers, parents and the community at large are being involved in all planning to build acceptance of the concept.
Each of the pilot schools will develop its own approach, West said, based on the decisions of local committees.
When the district announced last fall that it wanted to expand the school year, teachers expressed concern, he said. In-depth discussions have put some of their concerns to rest.
"When the rubber hits the road, and students find they are going to be in school for more days, they may object," West said, but district leaders hope that building community consensus going into the experiment will help to forestall serious contention.
Ogden District hopes to be able to extend the school year from 180 days to 200 days without significant additional cost by using innovative scheduling, instruction and staffing strategies. Other Utah districts are waiting to see the outcome of the Ogden experiment.
Children need the additional school days to remain competitive, West said. Shorter vacation periods also are expected to help students retain information and shorten the amount of "recouping" time at the beginning of a school year.