Despite protests from parents saying it will disrupt families, three more Salt Lake elementary schools will move to a year-round schedule in July in an attempt to boost the academic performance of at-risk students.
The Salt Lake Board of Education voted 6-0 Tuesday night to switch the three schools from a traditional to a year-round schedule. The schools are Bennion, 429 S. Eighth East; Franklin, 1140 W. Fourth South; and Parkview, 1250 W. Mead Ave. (980 South). The district's self-contained gifted program located at Bennion will also adopt a year-round schedule.The schools join Whittier, 1568 S. Third East, which moved to year round for academic reasons in 1987.
In other Utah school districts, schools have moved to year round to meet enrollment pressures, but Salt Lake moved Whittier to a 12-month schedule in attempt to raise lagging test scores at the inner-city school.
District officials say research indicates that a year-round calendar minimizes the academic losses that occur during a long summer break. The 12-month schedule also allows opportunities for remedial and enrichment classes during the interim breaks.
Under the district's year-round plan, the students attend school for 45 days and then have a 15-day break. They can have a vacation or attend classes during the interim. There is also a five-week summer vacation during June and July.
The three elementary schools held elections where parents approved the move to year round. Several parents from Bennion, who spoke before the board's vote, said that support is marginal, with approval winning by only seven votes.
"Families will have children split between nine-month and 12-month schedules, further complicating the already difficult task of keeping families together," said Bennion parent Loren Evans.
Other parents echoed his theme, also complaining year-round would drive a wedge into family unity.
"It will make it totally impossible for my family to take any vacation or have activities this summer," said Mel Pederson.
Kent Fetzer called the school's attempts to convince parents of year-round worthiness "well-intentioned railroading."
But Bennion principal Phyllis White said less than 10 percent of the school's parents attended the eight meetings explaining the year-round concept. She said she was unaware of the parental opposition, because they had not approached her.
Parkview principal Jan Wilde, who had been a principal at a Provo school that moved to year round, said parents raised similar objections there, but they grew to like the schedule after families and schools worked out schedule problems. "It's a process of change for the school and change for the family."
All board members said they liked the year-round concept. Members Steven Olsen and Stephen Boyden said they have had to or will have to adjust their own families' schedules because of students attending year-round school.