Year-round school starting in west Granite District

Hundreds of children living on the west side of Granite District will find their summer cut short as they begin year-round school on July 25.

Five schools will be added to the Granite roster of those on year-round schedules. They are Bacchus, Beehive, Pleasant Green, South Kearns and Westbrook.

Five other schools - Bridger, Copper Hills, Farnsworth, Fox Hills and Hillside - already are on the extended schedule.

Preparations have been under way to add the five new schools for more than a year.

While year-round school schedules are not a panacea, "Parent response has been very good," said Hillside Principal Dave Adamson. "They seem to prefer year-round to tax increases or extended day scheduling."

The year-round schools divide their student bodies into four tracks. Three tracks are in school at any one time, staggering their 42 days in session and three weeks off. All the students have most of July off, giving all the teachers a summer break as well.

Copper Hills teacher Joey Foote said the benefit to teachers is that they have to do less "reteaching" when children have shorter breaks. "We can get through more material," he said.

The district also is saving money by utilizing school more efficiently. The multimillion-dollar cost of new buildings far overshadows the cost that have been incurred in air-conditioning the year-round schools.

The state has provided some funding assistance for air-conditioning the buildings.

Because three teachers now handle the class load that required four previously, there is a savings to the district in salaries and benefits.

National studies suggest that year-round patterns help students who are either slower or faster than average, but do not appreciably affect those in the middle. More experience will be necessary before these effects can be fully analyzed.

Some students attend class when they could be off-track, enchancing their educational experience, Foote said.

Parents are able to spread baby-sitting costs over a longer period with their children on year-round schedules. The schools work with parents to try to facilitate scheduling for parents who baby-sit for others, putting the children from both families on the same track.

Families that have some children attending schools that are on year-round schedules and others who do not can look forward to the three-week July break for family vacations.

Teacher response has been good. At Adamson's school, 17 application were filed for two vacancies, he said. Off-track teachers can substitute during their breaks.

Salt Lake County Parks and Recreation is modifying programs to meet the needs of year-round students. Students can arrange to be picked up at their school and taken to a county recreation facility, with a hot lunch included for the $1-per-hour fee.

Although the year-round school calendar has been mandated because of the state's economic problems and great numbers of students, the program has proved to be educationally sound, said Ken McClellan, director of the Granite program.