Op-ed: The case against the school district's proposed 45/15 schedule change
The Rochester School Board is considering a schedule change for the Willow Creek 6th grade class next year. They are looking at going from a nine-month school year to a 45/15 (45 days of school, 15 day break, with six weeks of summer vacation).
There are some compelling reasons to consider a 45/15 schedule. However, this would have to be considered for district wide implementation, not just one grade in one school. Under no circumstance should a family be forced to have siblings on different school schedules and this is exactly what this proposal will do.
We will have no choice — our 6th grader will be going to school all August while elementary and children in other grades are on summer vacation.
The most often cited reason for a 45/15 schedule is improved academics. However, this is an inaccurate belief, according to the National Education Association, "Studies have been inconclusive to its academic benefits."
The primary motivation for the change, in Rochester, is coming from Longfellow Elementary parents. Longfellow is a district-wide choice school, on the 45-15 schedule, and Longfellow 5th graders are transitioning to middle school.
Longfellow parents made the choice to send their children to a 45-15 school; they like the schedule and want to see it continue. We don't have a choice to avoid this change if it happens and there are a number of reasons why it should not happen with one grade.
1) Siblings in other grades are not on the same schedule.
2) Daycare schedules will be different; often parents depend on 6th grade students to watch over younger children during the summer.
3) Minnesota has short summers. This time should be spent outdoors and many families travel or spend weeks at a cabin. Winter can be spent learning. If the 45/15 schedule makes its way to higher grades there would be a big conflict with seasonal jobs which are only available in the summer.
4) It would be very demotivating as a 6th grader to pass kids enjoying summer activities on their way to and from school.
5) Shared grade staffing (art, PE, music, etc.) is an issue.
6) Sports conflicts will occur, requiring 45/15 schedule kids to play during their vacation.
7) Busing is an issue, at times, requiring bus routes specifically for one grade.
Please help save our Minnesota summers and keep siblings on the same schedule. The 45/15 subject will be brought up at the April 12 school board meeting and I urge you to contact board members and voice your opinion.
Josh Banks is a Rochester resident and parent of two children in the school district.
(Cover graphic: Rochester Public Schools)