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      Baldwin school leaders push forward with year-round school plan despite setback

      Baldwin Community Schools is regrouping while moving forward with its plan for a year-round class schedule, also known as a balanced school calendar.

      Baldwin Community Schools is regrouping while moving forward with its plan for a year-round class schedule, also known as a balanced school calendar.

      The school received word its grant request through the Michigan Department of Education was denied.

      The grant, provided by a pilot program to help schools switch to a balanced school calendar, would have put the change into effect this fall at Baldwin Community Schools.

      The cost to make the switch to a balanced calendar, which includes building upgrades, is expected to be around $700,000.

      Baldwin Community Schools Superintendent, Stiles Simmons, was told schools across the state applied for $7 million in help through the funding, which had $2 million allocated to the program. Simmons will meet with the school board Tuesday and discuss the next step in a balanced calendar program. The new goal is to try and implement the changes for the 2015/2016 school year.

      "We are definitely not giving up because this is too important. Our kids need and deserve an education that is going to prepare them for a brighter future," said Simmons. "We are still committed to a balanced calendar model. We look at this as temporary setback."

      School leaders find out soon how their grant proposal scored through the MDE, which will likely help in future requests for funding help. Simmons said they will also look at local means to reach the goal.

      Simmons said the year-round school plan is backed by parents with a recent survey showing 90-percent community support.

      Under the balanced school calendar, students would attend the same number of days, but summer break would be cut in half to 6-weeks. Fall, spring and holiday breaks would be extended under the plan.

      Simmons said his research showed four remedies to help with the skill losses during summer break; summer homework, summer school, adding school days and creating year-round classes.

      "Summer homework is unproven, there's not enough participation in summer school, and adding days costs a lot of money. The balanced calendar presented itself as a great way to close achievement gaps," said Simmons.