For generations, kids in Vermont have been going to school from September to June with few interruptions.
"Currently there is one certainty about this calendar and that is it doesn't work," said Judith DeNova of the Champlain Valley Regional Superintendents Association.
The Champlain Valley Regional Superintendents Association is considering making significant changes to that calendar. It's exploring the possibility of introducing longer two-week breaks at multiple points throughout the year-- taking that time away from summer vacation.
"The advantages of having some break time in the current school calendar will allow our students an opportunity for some additional practice, and some work with concepts and skills, some reteaching opportunities, as well as some enrichment opportunities," DeNova said.
The idea would impact families in Chittenden, Addison and Franklin counties.
It came as a big surprise to parents waiting outside the Lawton Middle School in Essex Junction for pickup Friday.
"It is shocking because I never would have considered anything like it before," parent Heide Roseberg said.
Some argued recrafting the school calendar could create significant childcare issues for parents- others said it would do away with familiar routines like a long summer break.
"My reaction is vacations are tough for working parents as it is, personally we don't go away on vacation very much, we do a lot during the summer. So my preference would be to leave it as is," parent Ron Lessard said.
Others admitted the changes might serve their kids well, allowing them to recharge from the grind of nonstop classes while letting them try new things, but even those parents say the adjustment could be tough.
"It's going to have a big impact and it's not necessarily just negative impact, but people are going to have to get use to that. That's a big change," Roseberg said.
Educators behind the effort acknowledge the potential changes will come with major hurdles and stress that parents and teachers will be key to figuring out a final plan that might work.
"I say please join us in our conversation to figure this out, because we need to figure this out together," DeNova said.
The revised school year would still include 175 class days for students. If supporters are successful, the plan could be introduced incrementally starting in the 2014-2015 school year.
The idea is one that is in use in schools across the country.
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