Florida Senator Linda Stewart is eager to help implement a year-round school pilot program.
The Florida Department of Education will accept five applications from schools across the state.
The program begins in the 2024 – 2025 school year for grades K-5.
It will still be a 180-day school year, but districts will be trading long summer vacations for multiple vacations throughout the year.
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Senator Stewart noted that some parents immediately objected.
“People don’t understand: It’s voluntary, and your school may never have it,” Stewart said.
Stewart thinks it could help students better retain what they learned in school.
“This is to bring people up to speed, so they don’t have that brain drain in the summer,” Stewart said.
She said the program will help determine if year-round school could help combat learning loss, especially as students lost a lot of time in the classroom during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“If we don’t have an alternative for some of these kids, they will be left behind. They won’t catch up,” Stewart said.
Some Florida schools tried year-round education in the 1990s, but reverted to traditional learning soon after.
Dr. Charles Ballinger is the Executive Director Emeritus of the National Association for Year-round Education.
Remember when Florida schools first tried the modified calendar.
Ballinger said that select schools used the multi-track system, meaning some students were on vacation while others were in class and vice versa. He said that schools used this method to combat overcrowding.
Although this time it may be a different approach, he still supports the measure.
“Understand first and foremost that the primary purpose of schools is to help students learn as much as they can to achieve as high as they can,” Ballinger said.
He said a long summer break makes students forget what they’ve learned when the next semester rolls around.
“Most students (benefit) from shorter and more frequent vacations,” Ballinger said.
News 6 conducted a survey asking parents if they would prefer full-year school or traditional school.
The results show that 76% prefer traditional education and 26% want to try education throughout the year.
Some parents are against the idea because they want to take their children on vacation or enroll them in summer activities, such as sports teams.
“Give the idea a chance,” Ballinger said.
State education leaders will use the coming year to coordinate after-school programs, transportation and lunch for students attending participating schools.
As for teachers, Ballinger said a number of teachers are open to the idea of taking more frequent breaks and being paid throughout the year.
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