TPS Administrators Think Change Of Schedule May Benefit Students

Friday, October 19th 2012, 7:32 pm
By: Emory Bryan

Tulsa Public Schools is considering a new kind of school calendar, which would cut short the summer break by four weeks.

The change might come as soon as next fall, but that depends on the superintendent and the school board.

They're talking about changing all the schools to what's called a "continuous learning calendar." Tulsa Public Schools is seriously considering changing the school calendar to have children in class for part of the summer.

It's a trend for school districts that are struggling with achievement, and that's the motivation for TPS.

10/18/2012 Related Story: Tulsa Public School Considering Change To School Calendar

"This is one of those things where we think there may be a benefit to students if we go to a different calendar," said Chris Payne, with TPS.

The idea has the backing of Superintendent Keith Ballard, who plans to talk publicly with the school board about it for the first time Monday night.

The district has six schools on what's called the continuous learning calendar already, and is researching how it's working in Oklahoma City Public Schools, which switched over in 2011.

In Tulsa, the timeline is, so far, uncertain.

"We may have some schools that want to be a pilot for next year to test the waters, and I think we're envisioning a few pilot schools next year, but not doing a full implementation until the 2014-2015 school year," Payne said.

All Tulsa Public Schools are on fall break now, but while traditional schools are out three days, continuous schools are out two weeks.

Other breaks are longer, too, except summer, which is about 8 weeks instead of 12.

During breaks, the schools would have optional "intercession" classes to give students more time in class than they have now.

"A lot of times, kids lose learning, they lose ground over the summer and there may be a benefit. We wouldn't lose ground and we could keep the momentum going with these students," Payne said.

The school board won't take action Monday on the calendar—it's just a discussion.

It's important to note that Superintendent Ballard plans to retire at the end of this school year, which could be a time of tremendous change if the school calendar changes, too.

The board will also discuss who will lead the district after May, in the special meeting set for Monday night.