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Alternative schedule for schools gaining interest

By DAVID GRAVELY

editor@southwesttimes.com

A possible plan to change the schedule for Pulaski County Public Schools is gaining interest after information has been disseminated and talks with focus groups has given those groups facts and figures to ponder.

Focus groups made up of parents, elementary school faculty and staff, secondary faculty and staff and students were gathered in small groups and presented information on a possible plan that would alter the schedule for PCPS to a modified balanced calendar.

While the details are still not completely worked out, this schedule, if approved, would shorten the length of the normal summer break and have students in school throughout more of the summer. It would also provide breaks between nine-week (or some variation of that) sessions.

The overall feedback from all groups varied slightly, but many of the same concerns and benefits were brought up.

The concerns included childcare, the shorter summer break which could impact summer employment opportunities for students and teachers and the general challenge of changing what the school system has always done.

Some of the top benefits discussed included lessening the summer learning loss, the more frequent breaks throughout the school year helping lessen stress levels for teachers and students alike, increasing levels of achievement in reading and math, the multiple breaks throughout the year providing timely enrichment programs for those students in need of additional help, less food insecurity for the students, more options for families to schedule vacations during the school year and the ability to schedule CTE Course internship hours during the more frequent breaks.

Before being presented with the information on the matter, all groups were asked their opinions on the possibility of changing. Later, after receiving the information, they were asked for their opinions again. In each case, the number of individuals who opposed the plan decreased and the number who were in favor of it increased.

While those numbers did change, School Superintendent Dr. Kevin Siers felt that the majority of people still wanted to stick with the traditional schedule.

“We want to continue to gather and disseminate information on this matter,” Siers said. “It seems that the more people learn about this, the more they seem to realize the benefits it offers. We still have other parts of it to look into, but overall it does offer some things that we think can be beneficial to our students.”

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