Editorial: Hold off on school year changeThe District 518 Board of Education will meet tonight to consider approval of a calendar for a flexible learning year that would take effect this coming fall.
By: Daily Globe, Worthington Daily Globe
The District 518 Board of Education will meet tonight to consider approval of a calendar for a flexible learning year that would take effect this coming fall.
It should be pointed out that if even if the board does approve the revised calendar, it doesn't necessarily mean the matter is a done deal. The district will have to then petition the Minnesota Department of Education for use of a flexible learning year, a scheduling option also being considered by a host of other southwest Minnesota school districts.
Still, the new academic schedule shouldn't move to this stage - at least not this year, anyway. We see two good reasons why the board should vote “no” on this proposal.
For starters, it seems a little late in the current school year to be talking about significant change in the next. The flexible learning year would alter the 2009-2010 start date to Aug. 24; by current state law, the year begins after Labor Day. A change such as this will no doubt affect many who currently have vacation plans for this time, including both students and staff as well as their respective families. If the proposal is put on hold until 2010-2011, that would allow more time for all involved to plan around a new, earlier start date.
Secondly, advocates of a flexible learning year in District 518 essentially began advancing their proposal without consulting with district staff. Teachers within the district have voiced opposition to the plan, partly because of what they feel is a rushed time frame and partly due to the fact they weren’t part of the initial discussion. By waiting until 2010-2011 to implement the change, it allows for a greater capability to get staff fully on board with a new schedule.
District 518 Superintendent John Landgaard has touted the academic benefits of a flexible learning year, and we’re all for the idea of benefitting students and increasing their achievement. But starting early this year — and perhaps even in late Augusts down the road, considering the late timing of the Minnesota State Fair — is fraught with conflict. Let’s not rush things this time around.