Parents, teachers, and students praise year-round schools (YRSs), but there are also many opponents who warn against them. There is no conclusive evidence that the YRS schedule is better based on past or current research.
Decreases Family Time
YRS kids attend the same number of days as those on traditional schedules, but the format can make it difficult for families to spend quality time together. The difficulty of planning family vacations and the fact that two children within a household may have different school schedules puts a strain on family bonding. As their children may not be in the same school, teachers may also lose valuable time with their immediate families.
Due to the year-round use of facilities and transportation at these schools, maintenance and staffing costs will rise, according to the California Department of Education. There might be higher administrative costs at other area schools, especially when they use the more complex multitrack system. Using this system, students start terms at staggered times so the building is always occupied.
Because the Track B group started the term a week or two after Group A, they would still be in school when the Track A group was on spring break. As compared to keeping buildings and transportation running for ten months in a traditional format, maintaining those things all day for the full year increases operating costs for the school.
The YRS system also saves money in other areas, such as the need for fewer substitutes since teachers can take more frequent breaks. Although these areas may offer savings in the overall budget, they will not necessarily cover the costs associated with operating a YRS.
Doesn’t Solve Socioeconomic Discrepancies
Business Insider reports that year-round schedules don’t change the fact that high-income kids outperform low-income kids on tests. Kids who aren’t doing well in school may even be worse off with this modified schedule.
Although children attend school year-round, they spend the same number of days in the classroom as those on a traditional schedule. As we all know by now, low-income children will still have to spend weekends and seasonal breaks in the same way they’d spend their summer breaks in a traditional school format, so the year-round model does not completely eliminate this issue for them.
Creates Child Care Challenges
A typical YRS schedule consists of six to eight weeks of school with three-week breaks in between. Typically, child care centers for younger kids follow a traditional school schedule since most schools do not follow this schedule. Children in need of care during these shorter breaks may not be able to utilize child care centers because these businesses prefer regular clients over infrequent ones.
Also, some child care centers charge parents to hold a spot for their children who don’t attend every day. This concern is echoed by Tenney School, which adds that parents may feel more stress trying to reframe their thinking to consider child care options more than just once, like they did with a traditional schedule where summers were the only concern.
During the summer, many parents find long-term care during holiday breaks so they can spend more time with their children. It’s no longer so easy with a year-round schedule.
Decreases Summer Labor Force
There are fewer job opportunities for teens due to shorter summer breaks, according to the Congressional Research Service. These jobs provide older kids with the opportunity to contribute financially to their families and gain firsthand experience with important life skills.
A local, seasonal business like an amusement park or campground may lose these valuable employees during peak tourist season, causing the whole community to suffer.
Interferes With Extracurricular Activities
Since kids cannot stay after school during break periods, they may not have transportation to get to games and practices. In addition, it can be difficult for groups to schedule practices and competitions, according to the National Education Association (NEA).
Teams may have trouble finding dates within a season that work for everyone if the schools they play against are not on the same track. Without summer vacations, kids will also be unable to participate in other extracurricular activities like summer camps and internships.
School Break Slide
YSRs with three standard breaks will require teachers to treat each new term as a new school year. These frequent transitions could cause teachers to spend more time reteaching topics, and kids could fall behind their peers in other schools and states.
No matter how long or short their breaks from school are, kids will lose learned information. Whether this modified schedule actually addresses and changes the issues it aims to address remains to be seen.
Weighing the Options
There are different types of educational systems that work best for different children and families. Legislators, educators, and parents can make the best decision for children by understanding the pros and cons of year-round education.