Some Portland elementary students may switch to year-round school

PORTLAND, Ore. - Administrators at one Portland elementary school would like to switch to a year-round school schedule.

If the Portland School Board signs off on the idea, Rosa Parks Elementary students could start the new schedule later this summer.

"This may not fit for some families in this community," admitted Rosa Parks Assistant Principal Reiko Williams. "But it may fit for families in other communities who are excited and interested in the year-round school concept."

Administrators have been working on this proposal for over a year. Williams told KATU there is broad support in the community for at least trying it out. The goal is to avoid what's known as "summer learning loss."

"I think summer learning loss is a reality," said Williams. "You have kids that are out of school for twelve weeks. When you consider kids from upper-socioeconomic families and households, they have opportunities to provide enrichment resources for their kids. We have some of that in this community but it's a long period, twelve weeks."

In general terms, students would attend school for nine weeks and then take a break for three weeks. That schedule would stay pretty consistent throughout the year.

The only exception would be in early June. The school year for Rosa Parks students would end at the same time as other schools in Portland. Once the year ends, students would get a somewhat longer break, about five weeks, before starting up again in mid-July.

"I loved it," said Anna Kingsmith. "We had a shorter summer break but also a longer spring break, and a longer Christmas break. What I remember was that we had a lot more frequent breaks and they were shorter so you didn't get bored while on break."

Kingsmith attended the now-closed Edwards Elementary in Portland during the mid-1990s. At the time, Edwards was on a year-round schedule. Kingsmith went on to become a teacher and told KATU she's seen "summer learning loss" firsthand.

"It's particularly accentuated in students of lower socioeconomic status," said Kingsmith. "For kids who don't have the enrichment opportunities in the summer, they get more behind during the summer."

Rosa Parks administrators gave an informational presentation to school board members Monday night. Board members can reject the idea, approve it, or ask administrators for more details and information.