FARMINGTON — Three Davis County elementary schools will move to a year-round calendar beginning in 2013-2014, and another will return to a traditional calendar.
Parents and teachers at Eagle Bay in Farmington, Sand Springs in Layton and Buffalo Point in Syracuse are receiving information from district leaders about the transition to a year-round schedule.
Antelope Elementary in Clearfield will transition back to a traditional calendar.
“Every school is a little bit unique,” said John Sheffield, elementary schools director. “I think parents realize that we’re doing all we can to educate their kids the best we can with the limited funding we have. The year-round option is really the best option if we’re over capacity.”
Work began last November, said Sheffield, when district officials looked at the number of students in schools in October and at projections for future years.
“We identifed our top 11 schools and tried to see what their growth was going to look like,” he said. “We looked at their growth in the next three years so we make a decision that’s not for one year only.”
Over the years, 31 different Davis elementary schools have been on the year-round schedule for different periods. At the highest point, 17 schools followed the nine-week-on, three-week-off schedule that allows 25 percent more students to use each school building.
Whenever there is increased growth at a school, district officials first look at ways to improve utilization of space, said Sheffield.
The next step is to add portables. Davis School District now has more than 330 portables in use, but the adjacent schools need to have sufficient power and adequate restrooms, computer labs, libraries and lunchrooms before more can be added.
When no more portables are possible, the district looks to adjust buildings for special programs such as preschool or special education. They then consider boundary adjustments before moving to a year-round calendar. The last step to deal with growth is construction of a new building.
Financing for three new elementary schools was included in the 2009 bond passed by voters. The next new school is planned for the Woods Cross area to take pressure off Foxboro Elementary, according to Sheffield. Foxboro, now in its fourth year, already has six portables and is on a year-round schedule.
After looking at enrollment numbers, Sheffield meets with principals and the school board and the planning department. Meetings with community councils, teachers and parents are also held at each school regarding the decision.
“I think parents realize this isn’t a terrible thing to do and that it’s actually very beneficial for a child,” he said. Students in immersion programs, especially, will benefit from the shorter breaks rather than a long summer away from studies, he said.
In schools around the country that are now on the year-round schedule, 90 percent made the change for the educational benefit rather than a fiscal one, said Sheffield.
Some families may have concerns about coordinating the calendar with children in secondary schools that still use the traditional schedule, he said.
“Having gone through that myself, I found it isn’t as much of a problem as you’d think because high school kids are so involved all the time,” he said.
Students on a year-round schedule are divided into four tracks, with three on and one off through the year. He said families can staple their requests for tracks together with other families’ requests to ensure their children are on the same track with neighborhood friends.
Bluffridge, Lincoln and Syracuse elementaries are currently on the year-round schedule, so the district will go from five year-round schools this year to seven next year.