concerning YRS/Alternative Calendar by citizens at Board of Education and City
Stephen Kempf - Board of
Education meeting 11/10/98
"I've thought long and
hard about what I wanted to say to the board tonight. As I considered this
question, I realized that among the many areas of concern surrounding the issue
of an alternative school calendar or Year-Round School, I could talk about the
negative and disruptive effect that an alternative calendar will have on
community and family life. I could talk about the negative effect that it will
have on summer vacations and the ability of our children to attend important
summer camps and other functions. I could talk about the fact that there is no
significant evidence that an alternative calendar will have any positive
academic effect on the education of our children, "at risk" or
However, I choose not to speak
about any of these things tonight. Instead, I want to address an aspect of this
issue that has far greater consequences for the education of our children and
the continued success of the Auburn City Schools.
The success and excellence of
a school system such as we have in Auburn is the result of a co-operative
synergistic bond between concerned parents, teachers, the school system staff
and administration, and the city administration, all taking a pro-active stance
aimed at providing our children with the best education possible.
A good example of this
co-operative bond has been the recent efforts to establish direct internet
connectivity for all schools in our community. The need for internet access was
brought to the attention of this board, the school system and the city by
parents in this community. All responded positively to this need, and
the parents, the school system, and the city worked together to insure that
direct internet connections would be available in all the classrooms of our
schools. This effort is just now coming to final fruition.
participants in this endeavor
made significant contributions to its accomplishment.
The bond between parents, the
school system and the city that allows this sort of unusual co-operative effort
is a fragile covenant. It takes trust, commitment, and years of effort to
establish. More than words, it is the actions of the participants that
establish the trust necessary for such co-operation.
Unfortunately, the recent
actions, and I emphasize the
word actions, of the Auburn
City Schools administration in their effort to consider an alternative calendar
or Year-Round School have been viewed by many in our community as biased,
unfair, and a breaching of the trust that in the past has made the bond between
parents, the school system and the city of Auburn work so well. This is a grave
situation that acts to undermine this essential bond that benefits our schools
and our children.
Is the divisiveness arising
out of the alternative calendar/Year-Round School issue worth the damage that
is being done to that co-operative bond? I think not! I believe that this bond
between parents, the school system, and the city should be nurtured and
protected so that it will continue to benefit our school system. I urge Dr.
Martin and you, the members of our Board of education, to give serious thought
to this fact before making any decision about an alternative calendar that
would do further damage this co-operative trust."
David Strobel - News Conference
11/10/98 and City Council meeting 11/17/98
everyone coming tonight. I am a concerned parent, one of many that wants the
very best education possible for all of the children In the Auburn City
Schools. In the last month, we've seen a flurry of activity concerning Year
Round School or Alternative Calendar.
The ACS Exploration
Committee has finished their review, flyers and
sheets have been sent out, a
Town meeting was held, and PTA panel discussions were held at each of the
After all this research,
exploration and information dissemination, the informed public and even the
Facts Subcommittee have reached the same conclusions:
1. YRS or Alternative
Calendar does not improve academic achievement, not for the average student,
not for the at-risk student, and not for the gifted
2. YRS costs more money,
up to $1.7 million per year, according to Dr. Martin. That's an increase
of 6.3% of
the current budget.
3. YRS disrupts family
life and family decision making.
4. YRS does not provide
continuity of learning as the proponents state, but actually disrupts the flow
of learning by introducing several long breaks throughout the year.
5. YRS places the
community out of sync with 97% of the rest of the country that is on the
6. Since 1978 over 680
schools involving over 400,000 students that adopted YRS later rejected it and
returned to the traditional calendar.
7. YRS is never
successful without the support of the community. We have one of the best school
systems not only in the state but in the country. As parents and citizens, we
urge the Board of Education members to review the literature and to listen to
the community and
to do the right
Vote NO on year round
Then let's all work
together as one to further improve our schools and the education of our
children through proven targeted programs within the traditional school."
Chris Newland - City Council
The proposal to change the
Auburn City School calendar includes a plan for extra class days called
'intersessions' and a 30 day (6 week) summer school. Depending on which of the
four calendars is recommended, that 6 week summer school could be sandwiched
into a 7 week summer that should include a July 4th break. The 2 week
intersessions could be sandwiched into a 2 week break between terms. There will
be no break for those students under at least one of the calendars proposed.
This will cost additional
money, but it is not clear how
much. At the most recent school board meeting, 9 budget estimates were made
available, ranging in size from $176,000 to $521,000, most of this in new
money. These haven't been the only estimates At PTA meetings the cost estimates
were $1.7 million. When the community first heard the proposal it was said that
it would only cost $45,000. We don't really know what we are being asked to
consider, but the million dollar estimate was said to be the most accurate.
Where will this money come
from? Dr. Martin was quoted in
the O-A News as saying that he plans to ask for a increase in Auburn city
Schools' take of the millage from 36.5% to 40%. According to figures provided
by the State Department of Education this would amount to about $684,000, not
far from the highest estimate for the YRS proposal.
What will we get for this
expense? A summer session seems
like a worthwhile investment, but the one proposed is not even a complete term.
It is about 2/3 of a term. And under one of the calendars, the students
attending it will experience a total of a one week summer, perhaps 2 days
before the summer term and 3 days after it, unless those days are gobbled up by
days devoted to the July 4th holiday.
What will students do
during this time? It is said
that elementary school students who are struggling with reading will be taught
to read. Those struggling with arithmetic will be taught basic arithmetic
facts. High school students failing a course will be able to make it up. This
will be accomplished, it is said, in an intersession that is either 5 or 10,
half-days or a summer school that is 2/3 of a term.
This is not realistic. When
budgets are presented it is reasonable to ask what is likely to be gained. Can
an entire term's worth of failure be remedied in a few days? Or even a partial
term? Is it reasonable to think that a student who is struggling with a regular
term can learn the material in an abbreviated one?
Is it worth a try?
It might be said that such a proposal is worth experimenting with to see if it
works. But this is not necessary--the experiment has already been done many
times. I have sent you and the school board a summary of the literature cited
in support of the claim that this will work. The literature is not ambiguous.
It is not subject to interpretation. It is clear. As far as educational
benefits are concerned, there are none.
This should have died in
committee. What I have said
tonight was noted earlier by the Facts Committee appointed to review the merits
of year-round school. That report was not accepted but instead was re-written
and presented to the community in support of this proposal.
the STOP YEAR-ROUND SCHOOL
300 N. Dean Rd. P.O. Box
5172Auburn, AL 36830-5045 Tel: