Balanced Calendar: NTPS Hosts Third Community Forum
By JC Medina
North Thurston Public Schools (NTPS) held their third and final community forum on their exploration of a balanced schedule for the upcoming school year.
Held Feb. 2 at Salish High School, NTPS officials met with parents, students and staff to raise awareness of the benefits of the proposed schedule.
NTPS Superintendent Debra Clemens said they held community forums to “engage with community members and have both information and conversations on a balanced schedule.”
A balanced calendar still contains the same number of days (180) during the school year, but the typical 11-week summer vacation would be broken up into short breaks throughout the calendar year.
“We think ‘balanced calendar’ is a better description because when people hear the term ‘year-round calendar’ they think we’re adding extra days to the school year, but we’re not,” said the NTPS Deputy Superintendent. of operations, said Monty Sabin. “We just take the same number of days and distribute them evenly throughout the year.”
Four members of the Balanced Calendar Director community participated in the forum as panelists. They shared their expectations on the proposed school calendar and raised common community concerns and questions.
“The most promising thing about the Balanced Schedule is that it can address the potential learning loss experienced by students of lower socioeconomic status,” said Gordon Quinlan, an NTPS teacher who cares for students with difficult behavior.
Anna Khun, a student at Salish Middle School, said the balanced schedule would help students return to school after breaks without as much loss of learning that typically occurs during long summer holidays.
Although both support the plan, Chris Woods, CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of Thurston County, and Casey Crawford, principal of Woodland Elementary School, expressed concern about the effects of the transition period if the district puts implement the calendar revision.
Woods and Crawford, both parents of NTPS students, said effective regional implementation is needed so NTPS students can still keep up with extracurricular activities like sports leagues.
A 50-member steering committee is still exploring the impacts of a balanced schedule on school operations, programming, and staff. The committee is expected to release a detailed proposal based on community feedback in March.
The NTPS Board will decide in May 2022 whether to proceed with implementation for the 2023-2024 school year.