A twelve-month school year has the potential for bringing about many positive changes in a rigid system. One thing that would have to change is the use made of the school building. Other changes will occur as teachers confer with each other and swap ideas.
School buildings have traditionally been shut down during the summer months. This is vacation time for the staff. Normally, it is impossible to work anyhow in most of these buildings because they lack air-conditioning. During the school year, buildings are usually open from eight o’clock in the morning to four o`clock in the afternoon. All of this could change if schools began to function on a twelve month schedule. School facilities could be used to their fullest. School buildings should be known as educational buildings and be available for the educational enterprises of the whole community. They should be available to the community from six o’clock in the morning to late in the evening, six days a week from January to December. This would require upgrading most schools not only by adding air-conditioning but also by reconfiguring space to make it more adaptable for use in different activities and by various group sizes. As things now stand, the buildings are under-utilized. The equipment and material in most buildings are used only for short periods of time. Most material is discarded because it becomes obsolete rather then worn from use. Equipment is usually kept in individual classrooms and when the teachers are not there, the rooms are locked and the material sits unused.
The educational building should be available for all ages. Pre-school children and children whose parents work should have access to it as early as seven o’clock in the morning and should be able to stay until six o’clock at night. Children who require an after-school program would remain in the building under the supervision of that program’s staff. Senior citizens could make use of the building at times when space becomes available. When senior citizens begin coming to the educational building, the opportunity is available for them to see ways in which their particular skills would be helpful to the staff and students.
The offices of the administrators should also be in the educational building. Sometimes administrators get so far away from the students that they lose contact with the real world in the schools and become less effective.
The way is also open to reorganize the structure of classes and discard grade designations. Since the school is open twelve months, it would no longer be necessary to have first grade, second and so forth. The present grade system divides time into blocks and some children fail because they cannot keep to this rigid pre-determined schedule. A better system involves individualized programs in which children advance when they have achieved mastery. Acknowledgment would, therefore, be made of differences in maturation rates, interests, and learning styles.
Teachers will have time to confer with each other to consider more flexible ways to use their time and talents. When teachers are given the opportunity to communicate with each other over educational issues, there is the possibility that new and potentially more successful teaching strategies will be initiated.
The introduction of twelve-month school year has the potential for bringing about major changes in a system that finds it difficult to change. It will cost money. This the time for change. Our children deserve nothing less than total commitment on our part.