Columbia School District community,
It was brought to our attention recently that a hypothetical future school district calendar proposal has been a topic of discussion across the community. We are looking forward to the opportunity to continue this conversation over the next several months. In the meantime, we want to provide an update for context and if you would like to learn more about a Balanced Calendar.
Over the past two years, Columbia School District received a grant from the State to learn more about a “Balanced Calendar.” The grant has no required obligations for the district to do anything other than learn more about the possibility. A Balanced Calendar is a way of modifying the traditional 180-day school calendar and spreading the days out to create breaks or short intercessions within the year. The purpose of spreading the calendar out slightly is to limit “summer learning loss” or the amount of information students traditionally lose over the three months of summer break.
Columbia School District was one of many schools across the State that is looking at different schedules to better support students. Without getting into weeds too much, it’s been well documented how much learning was lost over the past several years during the pandemic. CSD is committed to exploring any avenues that will help students “catch up.” If CSD moves to a Balanced Calendar schedule in the future, we could look at ways to add optional support (or more days of school) to those students and families interested in additional intervention or enrichment support during these short intersession times. This is really about asking the question, “How do we find more time to add support for students and families?” There are already schools across Washington State and the country that have transitioned to a Balanced Calendar schedule. In addition, research shows that schools that follow a balanced calendar tend to have higher achievement scores.
Just to be clear, CSD has not decided to adopt a Balanced Calendar schedule yet. The official 2024-25 school calendar will be adopted in the spring of 2024 by the Board of Directors. Currently District Officials are learning more to see if this is something the District would like to pursue in the future. This past spring, four District calendars were proposed to school staff for them to vote on. Two calendars were “Traditional” school calendars and two were “Balanced Calendar” options. The top two calendars were voted on a second time, and one of the two the Balanced Calendar options received the most votes. While the vote was close, the Balanced Calendar has the support of over half of the District staff voting. We are beginning with this data from staff feedback and continuing to learn and explore additional options moving forward.
Beginning this fall 2023, Columbia School District will communicate updates and provide opportunities for students, staff, and community members to learn more and share your thoughts. If you would like to learn more about a Balanced Calendar for yourself, we encourage you to visit the links and information below. If this is something that interests you or you would like to share your thoughts on the matter, we hope to see you at one of our meetings later this school year. Please watch for updates on our District newsletter, website, and social media. This is all part of the process leading up to deciding what the future calendar will look like in subsequent years. As always, please feel free to contact the Columbia School District Office if you have additional questions or concerns.