The Board of Education has scheduled three January meetings at county middle schools, making it easier for citizens to attend.
“I’m going to really listen to how the meetings go where they’re going to explain it,” board member Sandra McKinley said. “I’m going to see what the feedback is from the parents.”
The first meeting will be at Chattanooga Valley Middle School on Thurs-day, Jan. 10. The second will be at Rossville Middle School on Monday, Jan. 14, and the third at LaFayette Middle School on Thursday, Jan. 17. All meet-ings begin at 7 p.m.
The proposed balanced calendar, or year-round education (YRE), would take three weeks away from summer vacation and redistribute those days through the school year. Likely vacation times include a two-week fall break in October, a full week for Thanksgiving, and a two-week spring break in April.
Though the calendar has its proponents, there are some who question the validity of changing the calendar, citing increased costs and questioning the touted benefits to the students.
“I’m very, very skeptical,” said board member Mike North, who has researched the balanced calendar on the Internet.
“There are school systems all over the country that have gone to bal-anced-type calendars and have gone back to the traditional calendar because it just didn’t do what they thought it would do,” North said.
Auburn University psychology professor Chris Newland researched the matter in 1998 and presented his findings to the Auburn school board.
According to Newland, the difference in the amount of forgetting after four weeks or 12 is not significant, especially when it is recognized that some of the information had been taught almost a year earlier in the previous fall.
The argument could be made, according to Newland, that a year-round calendar, with its multiple three-week breaks, simply offers more opportu-nity to forget.
According to a report from the Educational Resources Education Center, “there is no definitive study done that shows how YRE affects student achievement.”
“You can go to a body of research and you can find half of the research that says this thing is great and the other half says its terrible,” said Walker County Schools personnel director Eddy Combs.
“Well, you’re going to probably find the same thing on a modified calen-dar,” he said. “You’re going to have some of those who say ‘we’ve got better test scores’ and other people say ‘no, these systems tried it and theirs weren’t any better than ours.’ We’re looking at it, we want to continue to look at it, and again, the board has to make the final decision.