GREENVILLE — The Greenville Public Schools alternate calendar committee recently completed a six-month study on options for the school calendar, and presented their findings to the school board at Monday’s meeting.
The school board decided to continue with the study.
“I thank you for the time you have put into the study and would encourage you to continue,” said Board President Janet Ralph. “This is not a topic we are going to decide immediately, in fact, when I first came on the board 40 years ago, we were studying the 45/15 school calendar.”
Assistant Superintendent Diane Brissette said the goal of the alternate school calendar committee was not to create a year-round school calendar or a balanced calendar, but to create a calendar that would show how time is used and how the district could better distribute the time they are given.
“We kept coming back to the same ideas,” Brissette said. “It was a much harder task that is seems.”
Along with monthly meetings to discuss alternate options, previous research projects were also studied to see if one calendar schedule helped to make students’ success better.
“The research was not compelling in and one school calendar,” Brissette said.
Some research projects have shown that children who are identified as “high-risk” do better with a shorter summer break than students not identified as ‘high-risk.’
“However, the variables are too great,” Brissette said. “Is it that it is less about school than the school-like experiences? Is it that ‘high-risk’ students don’t have the opportunities to go camping or on vacation, and that they miss out on the experiences during the summer?”
The committee also released results of a survey taken by staff, students and parents concerning an alternate school calendar year. The survey covered preferences on start and end dates of the school year, the number of days students should go to school, and if they would be willing to pay for alternate schooling options.
“One other consideration is many schools that offer a year-round alternative do it for over-crowding, not for educational purposes,” Ralph said.
Options that deter the year-round schooling option are split family schedules and allowing children to allow camps or daycare. Sports and extracurricular activities must also be considered with a “non-normal” calendar year.
“Countries that have longer school days often don’t have their extra-curricular options like we do. They often go to school from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and then go to their activities after school from 4 to 7 p.m.,” Ralph noted.
“If we would offer it any kind of alternative schedule, we could have families who have kids on three different schedules,” added Superintendent Pete Haines.
“There have also been studies done that show high school age students do better if they start later in the day,” said Board Treasurer James Anderson.
Following more discussion on pros and cons of various scheduling conflict, the school board opted to have the committee continue researching various ways the district could schedule its calendar year.
Also at Monday’s meeting, the school board conducted a superintendent evaluation of Haines, breaking the areas of importance into four domains: student achievement data, district management, professional standards and accomplishments, and meaningful district relationships and parent partnerships.
The four domains complement one another and are considered collectively because the success of each one is crucial, with emphasis on student achievement. Each area was reviewed by Haines and discussed with board members in detail.
As a result of the evaluation, the school board issued the following statement: “We, the board of education, have full confidence in Superintendent Haines’ ability as the GPS (Greenville Public Schools) district leader. Together, we realize that there are areas of strength and opportunities with student achievement which is a district goal and will continue to work aggressively to improve this, we at GPS will do what is best for students and benchmark progress using consistent measures that better gauge student achievement. Haines looks for ways to continuously improve himself and his leadership of the district.”
Greenville wins a ‘Painting a Better Future’ Grant
Greenville Public Schools were one of two recipients of a “Painting a Better Future” grant. Partnering with True Value Foundation, True Value of
Greenville encouraged local districts to apply for the paint grant, where the winners would receive up to 40 gallons of fresh paint to refresh its learning environment.
The paint can be used as we choose,” Haines noted.
One of the first projects will be to spruce up classrooms at the middle school, where many of the classrooms are still painted the dark colors of the of the original construction of the 1970s. Other projects will be to repair the exterior of the high school.
“At $30 a gallon (for a total of) $1,200, it is certainly a very generous gift,” Haines observed.
Correspondent Lori Hansen is a Greenville-area resident.