Warren students could see shorter summer breaks

FRONT ROYAL — The Warren County public school calendar may be revised to shorten the length of summer break.

During a meeting of the county School Board on Wednesday, Melody Sheppard, assistant superintendent for administration for the district, said that the move might help students retain the things they learn over summer break.

“We reviewed the research to determine what we needed to consider” in a new calendar, Sheppard said. “The research revealed that summer learning loss was more pronounced in math than in reading.”

Under the proposed schedule, the school year would last from the beginning of August to the middle of June. Students would also have a week for fall break, a week for spring break and a 17-day winter break.

The district would also allocate several weeks during the year for remediation and enrichment activities, in which some teachers would provide students with extra lessons. Sheppard added that those days could also help the district avoid problems from running into too many snow days.

School Board members were largely supportive of the move.

“I like the idea of not losing so much time over the summer,” said Cathy Bower, the School Board chair.

The board approved the 2018-2019 calendar at its December meeting, so any changes to the calendar would not occir until the 2019-2020 school year at the earliest.

Under that proposed calendar, the school year would last from Aug. 13, 2018 to June 6, 2019 for a total of 182 instructional days. The calendar presented at Wednesday’s meeting would have roughly the same number of instructional days, at 184, but those days would be spread out more throughout the year.

It is also uncertain whether the calendar would change at all. During Wednesday’s meeting, Sheppard said that the district had several steps it intended to take before holding a vote on a schedule.

“We’re still in the exploration phase,” Sheppard said.

Rather than preparing the School Board for a vote during its next meeting, Sheppard said she intended to discuss the calendar during the School Board meeting to determine whether or not the district should continue working toward the changes to the calendar.

“We do have a plan to move forward if it’s something [the School Board is] interested in doing,” Sheppard said.

Now that the School Board has expressed its informal support for the plan, Sheppard said that the district will begin to discuss the potential schedule with school principals. After that, the district will have focus groups and surveys of teachers to gauge what employees and community members have to say about the plan.