Year-round school not worth the fuss

Disrupting the lives of families for nebulous educational benefits not worth the trouble.

Editor: After reading G.E. MacDonnell’s letter “Many benefits to year-round schooling,” (The Times, Feb. 14), I felt compelled to point out a few things.

The letter writer claims that year-round schooling “is, by far, a better format.” Based on the available research it would appear that even on the most optimistic reports, there is only a nominal improvement in academic achievement. There is plenty of research that shows there is no difference in achievement.

Changing to a new calendar would not mean an increase in instructional time for students. The same curriculum would be taught, with kids finishing the year with the same knowledge base. So there would be no real gain here.

The writer’s belief that families could enjoy their camping throughout the year is simply not based on reality. This might be enjoyable to some, however those of us who like to do a little swimming during our camping trips might find hopping into a near-freezing lake less than “an enjoyable experience.”

The fact is that most people do their camping during the summer months and that is not going to change. Not to mention the fact that most campgrounds close down in the off season.

The assertion that kids need only to “dress adequately” to be involved in outdoor activities and camps in the winter months is unrealistic. Kids are simply not going to want to ride bikes, go swimming, attend camps, etc. when the weather is miserable, no matter how well-dressed they are.

Just to prove the letter writer lacks a grasp of reality there is the statement “Air conditioning can be installed, as it would be a capital cost and not an operational cost.”

Firstly, there would be an enormous capital cost to installing air conditioning and I’d sure like to know who would be funding that during these times of tight budgets. Secondly, there would be a substantial operational cost as anybody with an air conditioner and a hydro bill can tell you. There would also be the ongoing maintenance that would undoubtedly be needed.

What’s being proposed for Langley is a change to year-round schooling, with the addition of “intersessions.” These intersessions would be one week set aside three times a year to help students in need and would apparently take the place of summer school.

This would not be available to all students and would only be of a benefit to a small number of kids. The district is telling us that the intersessions would only be available at select schools and the few eligible kids would need to find their way to those locations. If this is about improving student achievement, then let’s find a system that helps all students not just a few.

Having kids in school in July is just not pragmatic. Attendance would be reduced as many parents would take their kids out for family holidays. The kids who are stuck in sweltering schools would be looking outside wishing they were there, and not focusing on school work. We live in an area where there are a limited number of good weather months and we should be free to make the most of them.

It is not worth disrupting the lives of families to make change that would have little or no benefit. There is so much more to be lost than gained by making such a change.

Randy VanDeKerckhove,

Walnut Grove

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