Starting in 2012, the Kettering School District will move the school calendar up by two weeks, with the first day for students set for Aug. 14 that year. But before you freak out completely, take note that this doesn’t mean a longer school year. Instead, students and teachers in Kettering schools will begin the following summer vacation earlier, too – in mid-May 2013.
Moving up the calendar
Dr. James Schoenlein, district superintendent, says the move is inspired by the state testing that takes place in the spring. He feels the earlier start will give teachers more time to prepare students for the high-stakes tests, such as the OGT.
“The standardized test scores associated with the State Report Card are crucial to this school system. How we do on the State Report Card affects the confidence our community has in its schools and therefore its support for its schools,” Schoenlein said. “We must do well.”
Schoenlein said he recognizes there may be some inconveniences with starting the school year in mid-August. “But we can add a full 10 days of additional test prep time. This will have a major impact on our test performance,” he said.
The superintendent said the calendar shift is not a state mandate, and he is unaware of any other area school districts making their start date earlier. However, he feels Kettering residents and staff will handle the adjustment smoothly.
“I believe our community, teachers and staff will understand the benefits involved and will quickly adjust to the new school year,” he said. “We don’t see any major issues involved in moving the school year forward except the rearranging of vacations.”
Breaks after the calendar change will occur around the times that they do now, with only a few changes that are affected by Fairmont’s four nine-week grading periods. For example, Winter Break will mark the end of first semester, but that also means semester exams will occur the week before Winter Break.
Effect on staff and students
The schedule shift will affect all of Kettering’s elementary and middle schools, as well as Fairmont High School. Several teachers and students at Fairmont who are aware of the schedule shift don’t seem to have any major problems with the plan.
Fairmont teacher Cyndi Lewis says she doesn’t really have to worry about the move because her two chemistry classes don’t have an OGT to take. “I’ll have to worry about this move, however, when the End of Course exam date is set by the state,” said Lewis.
Lewis’ children attend Tecumseh Local Schools, and they already start a week before Lewis does. As such, she says, the calendar move isn’t going to change the fact that she and her kids don’t start school at the same time. It just means she’ll start a week before they do.
Lewis’s major concern instead involves her backyard pool. “I spend most of my summer in my pool, but I don’t own a heater, so it isn’t warm until late June and doesn’t reach the ideal temperature until late August,” said Lewis. “With calendar moving up, I won’t have as much time to spend in my pool.”
Students also have their ideas about this new schedule. Sophomore Saleh Hindi is sad to see the summer of 2012 cut short, but he knows that it has its benefits. “It’s going to make people want a longer summer, and there’s going to be more complaining,” said Hindi. “Then again, some people just like to complain. But I don’t think it’s that big of a deal.”
Most students seem pretty nonchalant about the changes. “As long as we’re in school the same amount of time, I don’t see a problem,” said sophomore Olivia Fisher.
Sophomore Jackie Heikes’ only concern involves family preparation for the change. “I’m fine with it as long as my family doesn’t have anything planned for those two weeks.”
Alana Chapman actually sees some advantages with starting earlier in 2012. “I think it’s going to benefit a lot of students by keeping ideas fresh in their mind over the summer,” the sophomore said. “Also, I’m cool with getting out earlier that year.”
However, Chapman does have one concern. “It might make Marching Band practices earlier in the summer, and I don’t like that,” she said.
Effect on school activities
Indeed, the calendar change will affect the dates for some school-related activities, including Marching Band and fall sports.
“It’s going to be interesting,” said Director of Bands Michael Berning. Instead of Band Camp starting the first week of August like it always has, Berning will have to rearrange it because of the Aug. 14 date for the first day of school. “Hopefully, Wright State will have an opening for us.”
The problems the new calendar causes Berning don’t stop as school starts. “There will be a lot of little things that will add up to be a pain,” he said. One of those small problems is how the first semester exams will affect the Holiday Concert, the school-wide concert that typically takes place the day before break starts in December.
Berning also sees some event-scheduling problems at the end of the school year in 2013. The Band and Choir concert that’s usually held at the Fraze at the end of the school year poses an issue because the Fraze doesn’t open until the end of May, but school will end in the middle of May.
Another school activity that will see changes to its schedule is Fairmont Football. “We haven’t finalized anything yet, but what this change essentially means is that we are going to have to really squeeze the life out those first 10 to 14 days of August before school starts,” said Varsity Head Coach Andrew Aracri. This change is going to give the team less time before school begins to have their two-a-day practices, and once school starts, there won’t be enough time in the day to have the two-a-days.
However, Aracri also has some positive views about the schedule change. Aracri said he believes change is a good and exciting thing, and he keeps a positive attitude about it because he knows that he can’t change it. He said he’ll make sure this change becomes a positive for the football team.
“We have a great coaching staff here at Fairmont, and I know that we will sit down and devise a great summer practice schedule for our players that will prepare them in the best way to be successful in the 2012 season,” said Aracri.
“This might sound crazy,” he added, “but I’m kind of excited to see how things play out.”