Council of Laurens 55 considers modified year-round school calendars

LAURENS COUNTY, SC (WSPA) – The Laurens District 55 School Board will decide on its school calendar for the 2023-2024 school year on Monday.

“I’m thrilled the district is open to new ideas,” said parent Becky Sharp.

Three schedules must be approved at Monday’s meeting: a traditional, modified or annual schedule.

“Many of our districts around us have moved to a modified schedule, so we’ve been looking at that with our communities, with our schools,” said Dr. Jody Penland, assistant superintendent of student services at Laurens 55.

Dr Penland said the district could move to a modified or year-round schedule. In these options, there are two 2-week intersessions, giving students a break and a chance for additional learning support.

“One of those weeks would be used for student intercession to bring those kids back, kind of like a mini summer school,” Penland said.

He believes these breaks prepare students for success and help teachers intervene early.

“It really gives us time to focus on the kids who have issues throughout the year, not just solving them at the end with summer school,” Penland said.

Some parents in the district said they were in favor of changing the school calendar.

“When I started looking at the calendar and thinking about it, it just made sense to go to the modified version or the year,” Sharp said.

She thinks it can keep students engaged with shorter summer vacations, while giving them time to recharge.

“I think it will probably reduce stress levels for teachers and students, because there’s not that pressure to squeeze everything into a short time,” Sharp said.

She also said that her students are older, so childcare during breaks is not an issue. Dr Penland said it was a concern they had discussed with local providers to ensure frequent care was available.

“Sometimes it’s easier to find smaller child care coverage gaps than it would be for the whole summer,” Penland said.

The school board meets at 6:30 p.m. Monday evening. The Laurens District 56 School Board will also meet on Monday and consider its calendar options for the 2023-2024 school year. The board will hear its first of two readings, before deciding on a schedule.

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