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Overcoming Obstacles

Administrators in districts that operate year-round schools advise others thinking about the shift to include all stakeholders in decisions and to have the answers to any perceived challenges.

Tip 1: “Make sure they all understand the concept and have an opportunity to ask many questions. Just to say, ‘This is what we’re going to do next year,’ is inviting failure,” says Miriam D. Hughey-Guy, principal of Barcroft Elementary School in the Arlington (Va.) Public Schools. Hughey-Guy suggested the year-round schedule for her school herself after reading about it. “It was a brand new concept. We hadn’t thought about it before,” she says.

Over 18 months, she sent a team of teachers and parents to a National Association for Year-Round Education conference; had many meetings with senior school staff, district leaders and the superintendent; and won “overwhelming support” from staff and the families of students in the school. The district’s board of education finally approved it as a pilot for one year and has continued to support it.

Tip 2: “Determine what obstacles you will face and try to provide solutions to them,” adds Brent Holsclaw, superintendent of the Bardstown (Ky.) City Schools. When local businesses that depend on high school students for summer jobs questioned the concept, Bardstown administrators pointed out that students still could work for eight weeks during the summer, as well as during other breaks throughout the year.

For-profit summer camps that sometimes operate sessions up to eight weeks oppose year-round schooling, while organizations like the Boy Scouts and YMCAs that usually run camps for shorter periods “don’t seem to have a problem with it,” says Charles Ballinger, executive director emeritus of NAYRE.