While year-round schools (YRS) receive praise from parents, teachers, and students, there are also many opponents who warn against this specific format. Past and current research provides inconclusive results as to whether the YRS schedule is better.
Decreases Family Time
While kids in a YRS attend the same number of days as those on traditional schedules, the format can make it difficult for families to spend quality time together. Education News suggests difficulty in planning family vacations and the fact that two children within a household could be on different school schedules puts a strain on family bonding time. Teachers may also lose valuable time with their immediate families since their children may not be on the same school schedule.
Given that facilities and transportation will be used year-round in these schools, the costs of maintenance and staffing regarding these areas, in particular, will increase says the California Department of Education. Other area schools might see higher costs include administrative costs, especially when a school uses the more complex multitrack system. In this system, students are split into groups who each start terms at staggered times so the building is always in use. For example, when the Track A group is on their spring break, the Track B group would still be in school because they started the term a week or two after Group A. The need to keep buildings and transportation running all day, every day for the entire calendar year increases operating costs for the school when compared to only keeping those things running all day for ten months in a traditional format. There are also areas where YRS's will save money, like a lower need for substitutes since teachers could have more frequent breaks. While these areas may offer savings in the overall budget, they won't necessarily save enough to cover the costs associated with operating a YRS.
Doesn't Solve Socioeconomic Discrepancies
Business Insider reports year-round schedules don't change the fact that kids from high-income families outperform kids from low-income families on tests. In some cases, this modified schedule may even be worse for kids who aren't doing well in school. While children may attend school year-round, they are spending the same number of days in the classroom as kids on a traditional schedule. Lower-income children will still spend weekends and seasonal breaks the same way they'd spend their summer breaks in a traditional school format, so the year-round model doesn't totally eliminate this problem.
Creates Child Care Challenges
A typical YRS schedule has kids in school for six to eight weeks with three-week breaks in between each session. Since most schools aren't on this type of schedule, child care centers for younger kids usually base their policies on a traditional school schedule. Parents in need of care for children during these shorter breaks may not be able to utilize child care centers because these businesses seek regular clients over infrequent ones. In addition, some child care centers charge parents to hold a spot for their children who don't attend daily. Tenney School echoes this concern and adds parents may feel more stress in trying to reframe their thinking to looking at child care options more than just the one time they had to with a traditional schedule where summers were the only child care concern. For many parents, they could take off work during holiday breaks to be with their own children and only find long-term care over summers. With a year-round schedule, it's no longer so easy.
Decreases Summer Labor Force
The Congressional Research Service discusses how shortened summer breaks limit the number of job opportunities for teens. These jobs offer older kids a way to contribute financially to their families and provide opportunities to gain firsthand experience with important life skills. Local, seasonal businesses like amusement parks or campgrounds may also feel the sting of losing these valuable employees during peak tourist season which could hurt the whole community.
Interferes With Extracurricular Activities
During break periods kids may not have transportation to get to games and practices since they can't simply stay after school. According to the National Education Association (NEA), it can also be difficult for groups to schedule practices and competitions. If every school a team plays against isn't on the same track, it may be hard to find dates within a sport's season that work for all schools. Other extracurricular activities like summer camps and internships will also be out of reach for kids who don't have summers off.
School Break Slide
In the case of YSR's with three standard breaks, teachers will have to treat each new term like the start of the school year. Not only could teachers spend more time reteaching topics, but kids could fall behind their peers in other schools and states because of these frequent transitions. The Department of Education shares that kids will lose learned information no matter how long or short their breaks from school are. So, the question remains whether this modified schedule actually addresses and changes the issues it hopes to improve.
Weighing the Options
The type of educational system that works best for each child and family can vary. Whether you're a proponent or opponent of year-round education, knowing the pros and cons of this schedule helps lawmakers, educator, and parents make the best decision for children.