The Post Falls School District will stick its toe in the waters of year-round education next fall, offering that option to families at Prairie View Elementary.
About 100 out of 600 students have signed up for the experimental program, which the school board approved Monday night.
That’s fewer participants than administrators had hoped for. But more parents may enroll their children now that the year-round calendar is firmed up, said Superintendent Richard Harris.
“Before, we were asking people to sign up for a concept,” Harris said Tuesday.
The idea behind year-round school is to get rid of the big interruption of a three-month vacation. Teachers say that, during the summer, many kids forget what they’ve learned. They must spend too much time relearning the last year’s lessons.
Participating Prairie View students will attend school for roughly 45 days at a time, with 15-day breaks. That schedule has been adjusted to allow for winter and spring breaks that coincide with the normal school calendar.
The Sept. 2-July 23 schedule will give everyone five weeks off in the summer, Harris said.
For now, year-round classes are only being offered for first through fourth grades. About 10 fifth-graders were enrolled; if more sign up, then a fifth grade class will be added, Harris said.
At this point, the class sizes are smaller than normal.
The year-round offering is a two-year pilot project, Harris said. If it works, the entire school may go on a year-round schedule.
Prairie View was chosen for the experiment because it’s the only Post Falls elementary school with air conditioning, allowing for summer classes.
The pilot project will cost between $25,000 and $60,000. The difference between the figures depends on whether another teacher must be hired, Harris said.
If more students sign up, a teacher can be shifted from the regular calendar schedule to the year-round classes, eliminating the need to hire another one.
Post Falls will be the first North Idaho district to offer year-round school. If the program successful, Harris said, it may be expanded and provide some relief for overcrowded classrooms by using more of them year-round.
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