Survey: Metro schools families, faculty prefer balanced calendar

Monday, August 22, 2011 at 3:48pm

In a recent survey, Metro school families, faculty and staff gave a slight edge to a new balanced calendar for the 2012-2013 school year over a traditional calendar, meaning school would start on July 25 or Aug. 1 if one of two plans is passed. 

The results, which include numbers recorded through last week’s automated telephone survey, give Director of Schools Jesse Register a last-minute boost in bolstering his case that a balanced calendar is preferable. The school board is set to vote on the matter Tuesday night. 

Of 21,091 respondents, 11,201 (53 percent) preferred a balanced calendar that would shorten summer breaks but make fall and spring breaks two weeks long, while also creating “intersessions” aimed at student achievement. The remaining 9,890 (47 percent) respondents preferred a traditional calendar similar to the current one.

The telephone survey reached more than 21,000 families. Combining figures from emails and phone calls, 37 percent of those reached participated.

Of polled families, 9,317 (53 percent) preferred the balanced calendar, compared to 8,354 (47 percent) of families who preferred a traditional calendar. Metro faculty preferred the balanced calendar by a 59-41 percent margin. Staff members preferred the balanced calendar by a 53-47 percent margin.

A marginal number of people who weighed in at Metro’s customer service office preferred a traditional calendar 57 percent to 43 percent.

Two different balanced calendars are under consideration.

Register has described a scenario in which he would likely recommend the board adopt a version that would begin school on July 25 in 2012, contingent on an extra $20 million in future unidentified funding to extend the number of school days from 173 to 180 days. The proposal also has 10 days reserved for the professional development of teachers.

But his recommendation would have what he calls a “fallback” plan if the $20 million weren’t available. As a plan B, of sorts, the board would also approve a second balanced calendar that would begin school on Aug. 1, cost no additional funding, but only increase school days to 176.

If the school board opts not to approve a balanced calendar, the alternative is a traditional school calendar.

12 Comments on this post:

By: David_S on 8/22/11 at 3:15

One major, gaping problem with the phone study done: There was not a "no opinion/undecided" 3rd option.

By: edspec on 8/23/11 at 5:16

This slight edge, given the circulated misinformation that a balanced calendar improves test scores and learning (it does neithet) and the unscientific biased way the survey was conducted, suggests that their is no mandate for this scheme. It's an SSA with even more disruptive effects. That this newspaper is this ignorant about the math of surveys is disheartening.

By: BenDover on 8/23/11 at 5:17

I sure would like to see the exact wording of the poll.

By: treehugger7 on 8/23/11 at 6:17

I agree, ben. More detail would be nice, but CP isn't often interested in details...too busy finding lame debate topics , I guess.

By: stepheni on 8/23/11 at 7:51

stepheni I am having trouble believing the MNPS survey results! Where is the money going to come from to implement this? MNPS never took in consideration the fact that school starting even in the middle of August has an impact on swim teams, camps and summer businesses! Memorial day to Labor day! Football in the FALL not the summer! I see MNPS parents everyday and not one has expressed favor for a balanced calendar which is director Registers year around school idea with a different name.

By: BenDover on 8/23/11 at 8:08

Not to mention that it totally jacks-up every divorce child-custody agreement that's been written in the past 17 years.

By: frodo on 8/23/11 at 9:10

If the school board goes through with this, then they do so at their own political peril...and at Register's professional peril. This is why many legislatures and many organizations require a super-majority to make major decisions. Things rammed down throats eventually resurface in unpretty ways.

By: Writeman on 8/23/11 at 9:21

I "register" my complete disapproval for Register's plan. Totally unnecessary and a waste of money. Keep things as they are, in fact, move the start date up to after Labor Day like most of the country. The argument that kids "forget" information over a long summer is ludicrous. Sure hope this foolhardy plan goes down in flames!

By: SirKnight on 8/23/11 at 10:19

I was VERY adamantly against a balanced schedule for business reasons and well as for my personal reasons. Yet I never received the robo-call to vote!!! So my vote was never recorded!!!!

I am a divorced father with a parenting agreement that allows me three (separate) weeks each summer. With limited number of weeks to do this next year, it will be very difficult to schedule any vacation time with my inflexible work schedule. I also have a problem with it because my daughter's band camp is now in jeopardy and will likely be cancelled next summer. Our head coach at our high school is outraged about this and has no idea how to deal with the total screw up of summer practices and game scheduling. He reminded me that this totally ignores teachers' and staff members' personal feelings and family vacation schedules, as well.

By: David_S on 8/23/11 at 4:32

The wording of the survey, as far as I can recall, was something like the following:
"The Nashville school board is considering two options for the coming 2012-2013 school year. Option one is a balanced calendar, with a shorter summer break that ends in late July, and longer spring and fall breaks. Option two is to continue using the same calendar as this past year. Press 1 for option one, Press 2 for option two."

The thing that really doesn't make sense is that supporters of the "balanced" school year say that a long summer break hurts students abilities to retain knowledge. But they are also lengthening the fall and spring breaks. Doesn't this mean that students are likely to forget more of what they've learned DURING a school year, as opposed to in between school years? There really isn't much rhyme or reason for this, just another effort by the school board not to look incompetent and say "hey, we're doing something, we increased the school year by 4 days!"

By: girliegirl on 8/23/11 at 5:13

SirKnight, I can foresee a class action lawsuit for you and other divorced parents.

By: Bellecat on 8/25/11 at 10:02

End school at Memorial Day and start after Labor Day. Worked for my generation and we graduated presidents, astronauts, scientists, Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winners, doctors, scholars, inventors, etc. on and on. School in summer has endless problems--disrupts family life big time, and there are not enought weeks to schedule vacations, mandatory school camps for sports, band, etc. , church activities, etc.
Also fall break weather is usually cold and dismal and kids stay in and play video games, watch tv. etc, Is that better than being off in the summer and swimming, hiking, biking, etc???