Will Charlotte Public Schools make the move to a balanced calendar by the 2017-18 school year? It’s a question CPS Board of Education President Mike Bruce said he is not ready to answer.
On Monday, April 18, Charlotte Public Schools Superintendent Mark Rosekrans made the recommendation to the school board to move the district to a balanced calendar — 180 days of school spread over the course of 11 months as compared to the traditional nine-month calendar — giving school board members three weeks to consider the proposal before their May 9 meeting.
Bruce said, at this point, he is uncomfortable moving forward with the balanced calendar if Charlotte is not joined by the other school districts in Eaton County.
“For me, I won’t go forward with anything unless the whole county does it,” Bruce said. “I need to know there is support there from the other districts before I can even consider supporting it. It will disjoint everything if we don’t move forward together. The transition would be difficult as it is.”
He said school boards from all districts in Eaton County plan to meet jointly to discuss where each is at regarding support for the change. He is unsure, however, if that meeting will take place before the May 9 Charlotte Board of Education meeting.
“If we cannot do it before the May 9 meeting, I would recommend to table the decision until after that can happen,” Bruce said.
Bruce said he has gone back and forth several times regarding the issue.
“There are pros and cons to it,” Bruce said. “I think it will be good for education, but I’m just not sure we’re ready for it for not.”
Rosekrans said he made the recommendation to move forward with the balanced calendar following 18 months of researching the pros and cons.
“My personal belief,” Rosekrans said, “school has changed for kids. The expectations and rigor expected over the course of nine months is so intense and so challenging, not only for teachers to get through, but for students to absorb, that, to me, it’s better spread over 11 months.”
Rosekrans also cited what is referred to as the “summer slide” — a loss of what was learned the prior school year that occurs over the course of summer break — particularly for low-income children.
“Our free and reduced lunch population hovers around 47 percent and has been as high as 50 percent,” Rosekrans said. “Our academic scores are tied in a lot of ways to our socio-economic status. If we really look at the status of our community, I really feel the programs, activities and offerings, food service, and connection to adults that care about kids, the more of that we provide to our students, the better we are going to be.”
A community survey, which garnered 600 responses, provided mixed results in terms of community support for the change to a balanced calendar. According to the survey, which is available on the district’s website (charlottenet.org), 50 percent of respondents support a balanced calendar; 40 percent do not. In addition, 37 percent said they would need to consider other school options if Charlotte were to make the move to a balanced calendar for the 2017-18 school year. Sixty five percent of the teachers within the district do not support the move to a balanced calendar, though 58 percent of the support staff does support the change.
Rosekrans said he suspected support for the community to be split.
“It’s a big change because people aren’t accustomed to it, and I respect that and understand that,” Rosekrans said.