Elusive extended school year

Special to The TelegraphMay 27, 2012 

For Bibb County schools, what better occasion to suggest we renew efforts in adopting a year-round calendar than the conclusion of the present term?

Although there was much tomfoolery allied with the Macon Miracle scheme offered by Superintendent Romain Dallemand, the notorious manuscript reportedly was going to include an indistinct pitch for a so-called year-round calendar.

Dallemand was correct when he stated, “Knowledge tends to get lost over summer breaks.”

Honestly, more and more taxpayers, parents and pro-business advocates, will come to embrace this initiative as they recognize the need for our children to keep pace with a changing world.

Before teachers and parents grow weary, let me explain where and how this design might best succeed.

As you consider the premise for the longer school calendar, please keep in mind we have a school population of 25,000 students, the majority are minorities and considered at-risk; 75 percent receive some form of public assistance.

Wikipedia defined “at-risk” students as follows; “Those that originate from low-income families, have a disability, or are influenced by something else that may cause them to perform poorly in school.”

First, there are several creative approaches that have been used in other states when adjusting the calendar. Some districts have literally extended the actual number of days for all students attending school by 20, 30 or 40. Others, however, keep the standard 180 academic calendar days, where the total number doesn’t change, but instead is distributed throughout the year.

Some systems, even a few in Georgia, entertain the alternative that allows students who are most academically at-risk to enroll in extended-year education.

I suppose, under such a scenario, students who excel could have the opportunity to fast track their graduation by signing up during their traditional vacation time.

This may be the best option for Bibb County schools, as students and parents would have a chance to select the designated schools that may offer the year-round choice.

Now, I will be the first to admit that if you let the children decide on expanding the length of the school year, they will quickly turn it down. However, attitudes among parents, educators and involved citizens, are slowly changing. More and more adults realize an extended school year may profit our entire community in a multitude of ways.

Engaged residents should mull over the rewards that a nontraditional summer vacation would bring to law enforcement officials and safety in our neighborhoods.

For better or worse our society has changed and the cultures of young teens, in particular, are not the youth of days gone by. The era of middle class values that included summer camps, backyard Bible studies and playing ball in the sandlot have all but disappeared for many children in Bibb County.

Given the multi-agency memo of understanding signed Friday afternoon to help shelter juveniles from hastily being rushed into the “system” it would make sense that the juvenile justice structure would salute a fresh schedule altering the time honored prolonged summer break.

Last November, Dallemand was resolute while speaking to both the Chamber of Commerce and Macon Exchange Club. He insisted year-round schools would be part of his improvement plan as a major assistance in helping children retain knowledge.

Something happened just before Christmas, though, and Dallemand yanked the concept.

Although Dallemand’s year-round proposal was vague, if you separate the issue from the personality, it has merit.

To solidify such a plan and get it implemented is going to take time, much more information, and a level of the trust that must be rebuilt between the Board of Education and our community.

Kenny Burgamy serves as a marketing consultant and is co-host of the Kenny B. Charles E., TV, radio and Internet program and is a marketing consultant for NewTown Macon.

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