In deciding that at least three schools will go to a year-round schedule in the fall of 1989, Cache County School District officials have joined a growing move to the year-round system in Utah.
Given the growth of student enrollment in the state, the year-round option makes sense.In Utah, there are presently 20 schools in six districts that are using the year-round schedule, but those numbers will double next fall when 20 more schools will adopt the system, 11 in Jordan District alone.
The year-round schedule clearly saves money in new school construction because an existing building can handle many more students when it isn't standing idle for three months every summer. But there are some academic advantages as well.
Because children are not out of school for such a long time in the summer, it means there is more continuity in their studies.
Some families object to the year-round schedule because it means youngsters in the same family might be in and out of school at different times of the year, although some of those problems can be worked out on an individual basis.
Despite such dissatisfactions, year-round schools have proven popular around the country. Utah state school officials said they were not aware of any place that had bailed out of the year-round program simply because people didn't like it. Some places have gone to the year-round system while construction a new school building, and then returned to the traditional schedule, but in those cases, the year-round program was seen in advance as temporary.
Other schools have liked the advantages of the year-round concept so well that they have kept it, even after a decline in the number of students no longer made it necessary. Many examples are found in California and Colorado. In those instances, they have adopted what is called a "single-track" system.
Under this arrangement, all the youngsters are in and out of school at the same time, but keep the year-round schedule, simply because it offers stronger academic opportunities. One Salt Lake school, Whittier Elementary, uses this system for that reason alone.
The "multi-track" system used in Utah has different pupils on varying schedules in the same school all year. This is what is usually meant by the term year-round schedule.
In any case, the program is growing. Every district should carefully consider going that route. Year-round schools are Utah's future. Fortunately, as people get away from the traditional school year, they should find they have gained far more than they have lost.