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Bossier School District starts reviewing its academic calendar

Published: Oct. 27, 2016 at 10:29 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 27, 2016 at 10:35 PM CDT
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BOSSIER PARISH, LA (KSLA) - Bossier School District is giving its academic calendar a once-over.

Discussions of potential changes have only just begun, district spokeswoman Sonja Bailes said.

But those discussions alone have perked the ears of a number of parents.

At the moment, the district is looking at 2 options.

Bailes stressed that neither involves year-round schools.

One option would be markedly different for staffers and students alike. In part, it would give them more time off Christmas and less for summer.

The alternative would more closely resemble the calendar the district traditionally has followed.

Both possibilities are being tweaked, discussed and vetted at 6 test schools, Bailes said.

The district has not made public which elementary, middle and high schools - 2 of each - are involved.

Bailes stressed that the actions the district is taking now are just the first steps in a much longer process before School Board members decide on an academic calendar.

Both options being considered would give students and staffers a week off for Thanksgiving.

The primary differences between the 2 plans involve the summer and Christmas breaks.

Calendar A calls for a 6.5-week summer and a longer Christmas break.

Students would be in class the same number of instructional days required by the state.

One argument for this plan is that students would retain more knowledge over the summer because they would not be out of class for 9.5 weeks, Bailes said.

And with more breaks built in between 9-week periods, she said, the belief is that Calendar A would decrease teacher and student burnout.

For the most part, Calendar B would be like the calendar the district traditionally has used. It's been around for decades and takes into account the planting and harvesting seasons. The community, however, no longer is primarily agricultural.

Currently, principals at the 6 test schools are meeting with their faculty members and asking them what they think of the options.

Later in November, their feedback will be reported to the assistant schools superintendent who, in turn, will report it to the superintendent.

If those proposals move forward from there, the School Board would solicit comments from stakeholders.

Public meetings would give parents and other members of the community an opportunity to voice their opinions.

Input also would be sought from daycare providers through the Early Childhood Education program.

Employees, too, would be given an opportunity to vote on which calendar they like best.

Then the Bossier School Board would decide which calendar the district will follow the next academic year.

The School Board traditionally has adopted 2-year plans anytime there is a calendar change.

And with the 2016-17 academic year, the district is at the end of a 2-year cycle.

So whichever calendar option is adopted normally would have been followed for the 2017-18 and 2018-19 academic years.

But because the district now is considering very different options, 2017-18 would be a year of testing whichever calendar is chosen.

At this juncture, however, it's unclear whether Calendar A and Calendar B will be among options up for vote when that time comes.

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