Year-round school - American Education
A school that operates a 12-month-a-year academic program to ensure maximum utilization of school facilities and accommodate a larger number of students without investing in plant expansion. Los Angeles was the first American city in recent years to adopt year-round schooling at selective school districts, in the early 1980s. Although new to the present-day school population, year-round schooling was the norm in colonial era and 19th-century America, when the school schedule was not based on education needs but those of an agricultural society. The school year was, therefore, divided into the four calendar quarters, with a “vacancy” of about two weeks at the end of each, timed to allow boys to help their farmer-parents with spring plantings and fall harvests—and to enjoy the Christmas holidays.
Nearly one in five of the nation’s large, urban, public school districts operated schools year-round in 2001—primarily to reduce overcrowding. About 2 million students attended such schools—nearly 4% of the public school population. Year-round schools operate on a three-track system that gives students four months vacation a year, with A-track students off in July, August, January and February; Btrack students off in September, October, March and April; and C-track students off in November, December, May and June. All students have Christmas week off. Although designed to produce economies, year-round education is not without its own costs. To operate throughout the summer months, most older schools require costly retrofitting of air-conditioning systems. Moreover, costs of staff and teacher salaries, normally based on nine-month contracts, climb by as much as one-third. In addition, yearround schooling is often disruptive to routine family life, forcing families—especially those with B-track and C-track students—to schedule vacations at times that can prove inconvenient for working parents. Students, too, often suffer— especially when separated from friends who are shifted to a different track.
(See also SCHOOL CALENDAR.)