Estacada superintendent discusses proposed school calendar
Estacada School District leaders hope that the proposed new calendar meets the needs of the community while supporting strategies for teaching and learning.
Superintendent Ryan Carpenter answered questions about the four day week calendar during a Facebook Live event on Tuesday, Feb. 15.
Members of the school board will decide whether or not to move forward with the calendar during their March meeting.
Along with a four day week for students, the calendar also proposes weeklong breaks during October and May. Historically, the October week is the lowest attended week by students and the May week has the highest rate of absenteeism from employees. Because of these two breaks, the school year would begin one week earlier and end one week later.
Each day, Clackamas River Elementary School students would begin at 7:45 a.m. and at 2:35 p.m., and River Mill Elementary School students would start at 7:55 a.m. and end at 2:45 p.m. Secondary students would start at 8:15 a.m. and end at 3:45 p.m.
"It's important that we think about what the future looks for educators, kids and schools. We need to find new ways to meet those needs" Carpenter said. "It's important to recognize, first and foremost, the needs of today's kids, who were born with a cell phone, born with an iPad and born with different approaches to what schooling is. We need to meet those needs, and we need to create a calendar that supports that."
The calendar takes a balanced approach to the school year to support social emotional learning and reduce summer learning loss.
"The research that's coming out post-pandemic is strongly advocating for balancing out the school year, with social emotional breaks for kids and employees. As we try to create a new aged, innovative school calendar to meet the needs of today's learner and today's employee, we tried to reflect what that research says as trying to build in more breaks throughout the course of the school year," Carpenter said. "The second reason is the research says that a lot of learning is lost during the summertime."
The proposed calendar also increases the time that students are in school. High school students are in class for 993 hours this year, which would increase to 1,015 hours; middle school students are in class for 975 hours this year, which would increase to 1,015 hours; and elementary school students are in class for 912 hours, which would increase to 917 hours.
Fridays, known as REID (Responsive Extensions, Interventions and Development) days, would include optional additional learning opportunities for some students. Meals would be available, and bus routes would run on these days.
Carpenter acknowledged that the proposed calendar would bring students to the classroom for additional time during the hotter months of the year.
"We have asked our community a few times now to help support the investment of our schools to create a more climate controlled environment for our kids in our community and for today's learners. At this point, it's already hot in those classrooms, so adding a week on both ends does become potentially problematic," he said, noting that the school board will begin to have conversations about making a five year commitment to start bringing climate control options to classrooms.
Additionally the district's virtual school day program could be used during heat waves.
"Imagine a snow day if it snows in the next month or two. We may call a virtual snow day. The learning continues and the school day still happens. It's just not on campus. If temperatures get to extreme heat, I see this as no different and we would potentially call a virtual inclement weather day," Carpenter explained.
He noted that families were surveyed about a potential four-day week last spring and last fall. For both surveys, more than 80% of participants supported the change.
"If we're choosing or proposing an outcome that you don't agree with, and you feel like you've missed those surveys or didn't get your opportunity to share your voice, I strongly encourage that you participate. We do our parent satisfaction survey twice a year," he said.
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