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Calendar 2.0 Will Not Take Effect In 2014

Almost 200 people filled the auditorium of Burlington High School Wednesday night to weigh-in on a new school calendar proposed by the Champlain Valley Superintendents Association.

Responding to community pushback, the superintendents will not implement the calendar for the 2014-2015 school year.

Speaker after speaker took the mic to oppose a new school calendar for northwestern Vermont. This was the third of four public forums on the issue.

The Champlain Valley Superintendents Association came prepared to defend the proposal. Milton Superintendent John Barone says he’s already heard negative feedback from a lot of parents.

“It’s change,” said Barone. “I think whenever we talk about changing something that has been a tradition for a long time, and the current calendar has been in place for a long time. I think that has agitated people.”

The new calendar would preserve the 175 school days per year, but would shorten the summer vacation and add longer breaks throughout the year. The calendar would apply to schools in Chittenden, Grand Isle and Franklin counties.

Much of the opposition came from parents against the idea of losing over two weeks school vacation from Vermont’s already short summer season.

Kerry Noonan is a parent who says a long break is important for her daughter to process information:

“The school year is very hectic, and it takes several weeks just to de-compress from that, much less give her dreaming time, gestating idea time,” said Noonan.

That sentiment was echoed by several parents, along with concerns about not enough hard data in support of the change.

Keith Jackson teaches high school math in St. Albans. He says more frequent, shorter breaks won’t help students do better academically:

“The week leading up to that week off is almost useless in school. As teachers we’re trying to get a test or a quiz, something in, or some kind of assessment to see what they know before they go,” said Jackson. “And when they come back, it’s review.”

Burlington parent Korinna Hillemann is in favor of Calendar 2.0. She thinks parents are opposing the potential change for the wrong reasons. Hillemann grew up in Germany and was educated under a similar calendar.

She says she doesn’t think students are productive over the summer.

“I don’t see all the kids using the ten weeks really in a very creative, learning way in the end. I think many kids are even ending up in front of TV for a long time,” said Hillemann.

Breaks throughout the year could be used for remedial course work or internships.

Superintendent Barone says the group will not implement the plan for the 2014-2015 school year.  But he says the superintendents have committed to coming up with a calendar, and will go through all the comments to make an informed decision.

The final public forum on Calendar 2.0 will be held Thursday at 6:30p.m. at Champlain Valley Union High School in Hinesburg. Members of the community can also comment on the Calendar 2.0 Blog.

Annie Russell was VPR's Deputy News Director. She came to VPR from NPR's Weekends on All Things Considered and WNYC's On The Media. She is a graduate of Columbia Journalism School.
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