The Palm Springs Unified school board will hear recommendations today that could re-shape the school year for Palm Springs, Cathedral City and Rancho Mirage.
Board members will meet at 4:30 p.m. at the district headquarters to consider the 2014-2015 calendar. The recommendations will come from a committee that was organized in January to study if the school district should move to a single-calendar schedule.
Most of the Palm Springs Unified schools operate on a traditional school calendar, complete with a three-month summer vacation.
However, eight elementary schools hold classes all year, with month-long breaks in July, November and March. They are Cielo Vista Charter, Agua Caliente Elementary, Cabot Yerxa Elementary, Cahuilla Elementary, Cathedral City Elementary, Julius Corsini Elementary, Landau Elementary and Sunny Sands Elementary schools.
The easiest way for Palm Springs Unified to align its schools onto a single schedule would be to re-instate traditional summer vacation at these eight schools.
Although the school board will discuss calendar recommendations during the work session today, it won’t vote on the calendar, even if board members are in agreement. The board will have to put the calendar decision on the agenda of a school board meeting before it is permitted to vote. The soonest that could happen would be Aug. 27.
According to the National Education Association, year-round school is expected to increase classroom retention rates by cutting down on summer-learning loss, but actual studies on the academic benefits of year round school have been inconclusive. The California Department of Education says the same thing: It is expected that year-round school should help students retain their lessons, but this effect has not been proven.
The education association also states that a year-round calendar is also a more efficient use of school buildings, which would otherwise sit empty during the summer months, but they can disrupt extracurricular activities or athletics that include competition between schools.
Finally, the association points out that if an entire district does not adopt a year-round calendar – like the current state of Palm Springs Unified – parents could end up with children at different schools with different schedules.