School Corporation may consider ‘balanced calendar’ for 2012-2013


It won’t happen during the upcoming school year, but Switzerland County School Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Jones talked with the school board Monday night about the possibility of going to a “balanced calendar” for a future school year.

The concept of a “balanced calendar” is gaining momentum with school corporations around the country and state, with Southwestern adopting a “balanced calendar” for the upcoming school year. School corporations are looking at “balanced calendars” because it gives them flexibility throughout the school year, especially if the corporation would be hit with severe winter weather.

With a “balanced calendar”, schools start earlier than normal, but interspersed in the calendar are a series of longer breaks. Although students still go the state-mandated 180 days, those school days are spread across more of the calendar. As a result, summer vacation basically becomes the months of June and July.

“It’s something that the superintendents who participate in the Southeastern Career Center are talking with their school boards about,” Dr. Jones said. “Because of the need to coordinate school calendars among participating schools, we decided to discuss the possibility of a balanced calendar with our individual school boards. With Southwestern already adopting a balanced calendar, it also gives us the chance to see how it works and what the advantages and disadvantages are.”

Dr. Jones said that her report on the concept to the school board at Monday’s nights meeting was purely for information, and that there are no plans to adopt a “balanced calendar” for the 2011-2012 school year. The school board has adopted a traditional calendar for next year, but will continue to consider a “balanced calendar” for the 2012-2013 year.

Madison is also considering a “balanced calendar” for the 2011-2012 school year.

Here’s a look at some of the differences between Switzerland County’s school calendar for the 2011-2012 school year and the “balanced calendar” adopted by Southwestern:

– In 2011, Southwestern students will attend school for the first day on Wednesday, August 3rd. Switzerland County students will have their first day of school nine days later, on Friday, August 12th.

– Both school systems will not have classes on Labor Day, September 5th.

– The big differences appear in mid-October, when Southwestern will have a two week break, beginning on Monday, October 10th and running through Friday, October 21st. Switzerland County will have Parent-Teacher Conferences on Thursday, October 20th; and Fall Break will be on Friday, October 21st and Monday, October 24th.

– Both corporations will be off school for Thanksgiving on Thursday, November 24th and Friday, November 25th.

– Both schools will begin Christmas Break on Wednesday, December 21st; and students will return on Tuesday, January 3rd.

– Switzerland County has days off tentatively scheduled for Monday, January 16th, for Martin Luther King Day; and on Monday, February 20th, for Presidents Day. Students may go to school on those days if days are missed due to winter weather prior to those. Southwestern has an off day on Presidents Day.

– March has Southwestern having another two week break, beginning on Monday, March 12th and returning on Monday, March 26th. Switzerland County’s Spring Break will begin on Monday, March 26th and run through Friday, March 30th.

– Both schools are scheduled to be off on Good Friday, April 6th.

– The last day for students in Switzerland County is scheduled to be on Wednesday, May 23rd; while Southwestern kids will have their last day on Thursday, May 31st; and will be off on Memorial Day, May 28th.


In both systems, students will attend 180 school days; Southwestern’s schedule simply puts more break time in the school year, rather than in the summer months.

“One of the advantages is if we would have snow,” Dr. Jones said. “With a balanced schedule, if you had a lot of snow days to make up, you could reduce that two-week Spring break by a week or a couple of days and make up the days without having to move the end of school back. With our calendar, if we would have a lot of snow, we would have to extend the school year after May 23rd.”

The superintendent also said that studies have shown that interspersing longer breaks in the school year can lead to better student performance, because it eliminates those long stretches of school.

“We know that some students lose classroom performance over long stretches,” the superintendent said. “One of the advantages of a balanced calendar is that you have a longer break after each nine weeks grading period, so it gives students the chance to take a break and get ready for the next section of school.”

But what might ultimately drive not only Switzerland County but all of the school corporations who are a part of the Southeastern Career Center to “balanced calendars” is the need to cooperate. Dr. Jones said that it is important that all of the school calendars be as similar as possible because students attending the Career Center need to be in class at the same time.

If half of the school corporations took Spring Break at a different time of year, for example, Career Center students would either be forced to miss ongoing classes at the Career Center, or sit at school with no class because the Career Center is closed for a break.

“It’s important that we share that information on calendars because we all want our Career Center students to have the ability to take full advantage of their courses,” Dr. Jones said. “Missed school days means that those students aren’t getting the education that they want.”

Dr. Jones said that statistically, school corporations that have a “balanced calendar” see better attendance from their students – which is one of the targets that state and federal education departments are wanting schools to improve upon.

“What we want to focus on is doing what’s best for our students,” Dr. Jones said. “We want to continue to provide the best possible education that we can for all of our students. Our goal is to have the children in the classroom as much as possible.”