Straw poll shows majority approves
Milan looks at balanced calendar

Beth Rumsey
Staff Writer

Parents, students, teachers and some Milan school board members attended a special meeting held at the Milan Elementary School on Wednesday, April 6 to begin discussion about a balanced calendar for the Milan Community School Corporation.

A balanced calendar will continue to have 180 days of instruction, but will have regularly scheduled two week breaks after each nine weeks of instruction. This means school would start August 1; then there would be a two week break in October, a two week Christmas break, and a two or three week break in March, depending on snow make-up days. There would be a seven week summer break.

According to Reale, the concept of a balanced calendar was presented during the Board of Managers' meetings at the Southeastern Career Center. The SCC strives to align its calendar with the calendars of the participating schools in order to maximize student instruction time and minimize days with low attendance due to breaks.

Reale presented the following advantages of having a balanced calendar:

• It would allow students in need of remediation to use the time to catch up.

• After nine weeks, students and teachers get a break and return to school recharged.

• The schools could see an improvement in attendance since vacations and doctor appointments could be scheduled during the regular breaks.

• Test scores could increase because students would better retain what they have learned.

Common questions from the parents included:

• How will the teachers for remediation be paid? Reale explained that this has not been addressed, but there will only be a requirement of one or two teachers at each school.

• Will bus service be provided for those students who participate in remediation? According to Reale, transportation to the school will be the parents’ responsibility. He said that participation in remediation is completely voluntary and would only be a few hours each day.

• How would the issue be decided? According to Reale, the school board would make the final decision on a balanced calendar to be made into policy. He noted that the calendar can return to the traditional calendar after a period of time if the balanced calendar did not work out.

Parents were also concerned about those students who work during the summer or participate in extra-curricular organizations such as 4-H fair and the state fair. Parents of special education students with autism or ADHD explained the difficulty they would have adjusting to a different schedule.

According to Reale, the issue was presented to the teachers the day before and had received a positive response. “Educationally, there are no negatives,” said Reale.

“It’s not a teacher or monetary problem, but rather a way for improvement,” he continued.

“Someone needs to go first,” said Reale, “why not try something new?”

A straw poll at the end of the meeting indicated that the majority of those attending believe that a balanced calendar is a topic worth pursuing.

Milan Community School Corporation Superintendent Dr. Thomas Reale (standing) explained the advantages of a balanced calendar at a special public meeting held last Wednesday, April 6. The idea was received with mixed views, but a straw poll at the end of the meeting showed that most patrons felt that the idea was worth pursuing.