When it comes to summer in Vermont, Janet Harvey-Coutrayer and her kids make every minute count. "Above all, we like to get out. We like to enjoy Vermont. We aren't in a position to travel the rest of the year," she said.
But this mother of two fears her family routine could be changing. She's part of a group called the "Vermont Save Our Summer Coalition." It's challenging a proposal from the Champlain Valley Superintendents Association that looks to introduce longer two-week breaks at multiple points throughout the year by taking 10 days away from summer vacation.
"I've heard it said that if there is a need, it will be filled, but a lot of parents struggle now and their needs are not always filled, so if there is more competition for less options, it's either going to be more expensive or you're going to be out of luck," Harvey-Coutrayer said.
"We're well into the 21st century and today's youth and today's educators need more flexibility in their schedules," said Judy DeNova with the Champlain Valley Superintendents Association.
The Association is backing what's being called "Calendar 2.0." "It allows time for teachers to respond to students who may be having difficulty with a concept or a skill. It also allows time for students to be involved in the community so they can be involved in internships and job-shadowing opportunities," DeNova said. She says she spent part of her summer meeting with dozens of community groups to explore how they can work together to provide new opportunities for students during the year and help find ways to alleviate parent concerns over childcare. She's also challenging critics who say the calendar changes are a done deal. "It is not a done deal, it's an opportunity to talk about what's not working and an opportunity to talk about how we can make it better," she said.
Still, Harvey-Coutrayer says she's seen little evidence the changes will make a major difference in the classroom and she says they could have a negative impact on things like camps and jobs for teens who depend on the long summer stretch. "At this point I am not convinced it would work. I think it feels like an experiment," she said.
Calendar 2.0 would keep the total number of days in the classroom at 175.
The Champlain Valley Superintendents Association has set up a number of public forums for parents and community members to share their questions and concerns about the proposal.
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