Petition seeks to reverse Sherrard Board of Education decision

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Nearly 300 people have signed a petition to reverse a decision made by the Sherrard Board of Education in December.

The petition, on the website, says the following:

At the last board meeting for Sherrard's BOE, the board voted to return to a traditional calendar without  a reason for this change. The public was given a chance to voice their preference through a survey and the response showed staying with the modified calendar. A similar survey was given to the teachers and overwhelmingly the teachers picked to remain with the modified calendar. I am starting this petition to see if the public wants this change or would like to return to the modified calendar. Signing this petition will show your support in returning to the modified calendar.

At the December Sherrard Board of Education meeting, the board voted to change the district’s school year calendar for 2014-2015.

Since the 2005-2006 school year, the district has used what they call a balanced calendar. Their summers are short and they have two week breaks in the fall and spring. The new calendar is more traditional with longer summers and without the long breaks in the fall and spring.

“What we're really trying to do is provide the best environment from an educational perspective that we can for all students and all families and we believe that this calendar does that,” said Leslie Anderson, President of Sherrard School Board.

“My kids are performing well in the school system and I’m afraid that it's going to be too late after they make the change to go back,” said RJ Romine, a parent of a student in the Sherrard School District.

“I'm happy with the change,” said parent Teresa Doak.

“I think that will be better having the kids all summer long than having to worry about the two weeks in the fall and two weeks in the spring,” added parent Brad Gross.

Anderson says the district chose the balanced calendar roughly eight years ago, for multiple reasons including improving achievement, family-friendly for vacations and appointments during the school year and the natural periodic breaks that would allow students and teachers to get rejuvenated.

According to a Sherrard Board of Education Memorandum, none of the present school board members were on the board at the time the decision was made to implement the balanced calendar.

That memo also detailed balanced calendar findings. According to the memo, the improvement in achievement had not been realized or really impacted by the balanced calendar. When the calendar was first implemented, one of the weeks during fall and spring break was used for remediation and or the extension of learning, but that process was discontinued after about four or five years, according to the memo.

The memo also states that the Sherrard district has been ranked number 317 out of 756 based on test stores by, the lowest of all schools in the surrounding area.

“If you look at our achievement scores, they're not great. Our achievement scores in our upper grades and in our high school have been falling and so that's a concern,” said Anderson.

The memo also shared details about the periodic breaks including some teachers have shared that having these breaks actually detracts from learning because students are disinterested in school the week leading up to the break and have difficulty refocusing the week after break.

However, some parents like the two week breaks.

“It refreshes them and it gives them a change to rewind,” said Romine.

Anderson also said the balanced calendar does not allow for a break for students in extracurricular activities.

Anderson said the process of changing the calendar started at the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year with a calendar committee.

“Really what prompted it, was the feedback from parents, was the feedback from the community that ‘Hey maybe now's the time to look at this,’” said Anderson.

Three potential calendars were put online as part of a survey. Those calendars included the current balanced calendar, a calendar that would allow for a late August start but kept the two week breaks in the fall and spring, and the calendar the board chose that made summers longer and eliminated the breaks.

Anderson said the most popular was the calendar that allowed for a late August start but kept the two week breaks in the fall. However, after talking with teachers who were concerned about finals being after Christmas break, the board chose the more traditional calendar.

“Very, very upset about how it transpired,” said Romine, “They really didn't do a good job of surveying the community,” he added.

Many others commenting on the petition have similar feelings.

“Unfortunately, that didn't make everyone happy and it was our intent to make as many people as happy as possible, but what we were looking for was how can we really best impact outcomes for students?” said Anderson.

The petition will be presented at Wednesday night’s Sherrard School Board meeting.