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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Year-Round Program Needs Students And Answers EV Board Not Expected To Act On Plan Until Next Month

East Valley School District’s proposal for a year-round school needs 50 to 100 interested students - and many questions answered - before it turns to reality.

The program likely would run on a “single track,” with the whole school in session or on vacation at the same time. Some year-round schools use “multiple tracks,” in which perhaps one-third of all students are off at any given time.

The school board heard a proposal this week from the year-round education committee. Board members probably won’t vote on the recommendation until March. They want the chance first to hear and answer questions from several parents who attended this week’s board meeting.

“I believe the committee will recommend that we accept their proposal. Then we would have to see if parents want it, what it would involve and what it would cost,” said June Sine, board chairman.

It likely would take a full year of planning to start such a school, so the fall of 1997 is the earliest a year-round school could open. Sine said some districts take as long as two years for planning.

Superintendent Chuck Stocker said he thinks in terms of 50 to 100 students as a starting target because those numbers break down well into class-size groups.

No specific calendar is suggested in the proposal. That would be decided down the road. Calendars that other year-round schools use generally include a summer vacation of six weeks or so, a Christmas vacation and other shorter breaks.

Those are called intersessions and can be used for a couple of purposes.

Students who are falling behind can attend special classes during intersession to catch up more quickly than is possible in the traditional school calendar.

Kids also could choose to enroll in enrichment classes. Committee member and teacher Ric Kalman said other schools offer courses ranging from science classes focusing on snails to arts, gardening, peer mediation, computers, space camp, architecture and design, and camping.

Those intersession activities are among the educational benefits, Kalman said. But the major benefit is that students spend less time on review. Currently, that’s done each September after the long summer vacation.

Kalman and other committee members stressed the importance of grass-roots support for year-round education in other school districts they studied. “Grass-roots involvement helped predict success,” Kalman said.

Karl Wilkinson, who sits on both the school board and the year-round education committee, said he hears every day from parents who want their children involved in the project. Some of those parents are now home-schooling their children.

A few interested parents are from other Valley school districts.

They may eventually be able to send their children to the East Valley school, through the state’s “choice” law, said Tom Feldhausen, an administrator and year-round committee member. “But we want to take care of our own children first.”

, DataTimes

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