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Thank You for the Calendar Feedback

A Joint Message from Bellingham Public Schools and Bellingham Education Association

Dear Families, Staff and Community,

Thank you for the significant response to our request for feedback regarding future school year calendars.  We received more than 2,000 responses!

The survey just closed at noon Tuesday, but we wanted to share a brief summary of the results. We’ll spend time during the next several months reading through all of the comments as we begin to discuss future school year calendars.

Superintendent Greg Baker also wanted to share with you a few of his own reflections on this topic to help put some minds at ease:

You can see on my blog, there were many “spirited” comments regarding the year-round calendar model (mostly against).

Here’s a sample of two comments in response to “Do you think we should consider a balanced or year-round calendar?”:

  • Are you crazy? This would be SO DISRUPTIVE for the VAST majority of parents who would struggle to find childcare.
  • Yeeeeeesssssss!!!! I love this proposed change.  We missed out on other seasonal enrichment activities because of being school.  I want to be able to spend more time with my children in other seasons besides summer!

As I said in many of my blog responses, a year-round school calendar is not an idea being actively pursued or proposed. Rather, it’s a concept that I get asked about consistently by teachers, families and community members. We wanted to include it in the survey to get an initial sense if our community and staff feels this topic is worthy of further discussion and exploration.

While I was trying hard to stay objective in my responses, some of you may be curious to find out my opinion on this. As I’ve shared at many parent organization meetings and staff meetings this year, if we were starting from scratch with any calendar, I would go more toward year-round. I think it would benefit staff greatly with a more balanced work year and stress reduction, and I think it would benefit kids, particularly those who have the largest “summer slide” or “learning loss.” But I do not think this community is ready for it; I’m not convinced. I do not believe a year-round calendar is feasible for Bellingham Public Schools at this time. There are too many forces against it: tradition, weather, jobs, child-centered activities/camps, family vacations and its inconsistency with other districts and higher education, and many more (you can see the blog for other reasons!).

I know there are some who support this model, but I believe it would be incredibly difficult to pull off unless the whole state or county decided to go for the year-round model, which is unlikely (at least in the foreseeable future).

We sometimes hear when we ask for feedback that “it’s already a done deal” or about “top-down decisions,” and I hope this is another example that demonstrates that’s not our intent. Being asked for input and being included in a process early on can feel uncomfortable, especially on topics that affect our daily schedules and lives. And, we don’t want to shy away from being inquisitive learners – just what we ask of our kids. Please be assured that we wouldn’t make a big change without a lot of engagement from those most affected.

On behalf of our association and district, we thank each of you that took the time to share your thoughts, whether it was through the survey or blog. It’s wonderful to have such an outpouring of passionate responses.

Please remember that our 2017-18 school year calendar is set and can be viewed here, and we look forward to celebrating all of your children’s successes during these final days of this school year.