A big change, with potential big results

Feb. 28, 2014 @ 05:00 AM

On Tuesday I visited Forest City-Dunbar Elementary School to talk to principal Brad Richardson about a big change the school will undergo in 2014-15. I'm talking about the flex calendar, or as some people would call it, year-round school.

This is something the school has been working toward for a while and the Board of Education approved last year. According to the new calendar, students at Forest City-Dunbar will start school on July 15 and have three-week intercessory breaks throughout the year. Their longest break will be in June and will last about four weeks.

The change in the calendar is an attempt to raise student test scores and give them more of a chance to retain information learned throughout the year.

As anyone who has been a student can tell you, those long summer months can definitely effect learning. Although everyone would like to think that learning continues in the summer and students rush out of class ready to participate in summer reading programs, most of the time that isn't the case.

Brad told me that each year the teachers spend about six weeks at the beginning of the school year reviewing things from the year before. He hopes with this new schedule there will be less reviewing and more time spent learning new subject matter.

Everyone I talked to at the school on Wednesday seems very enthusiastic about the change. There was no huffing and puffing about losing a summer or anything like that. There was excitement for a new opportunity and support for their principal.

Forest City-Dunbar also went through another big change at the beginning of the 2013-14 school year. They implemented a new dress code which requires students to wear navy and white polo tops and khaki bottoms. Brad said since that time he has seen a change in the students. He said they seem proud of their uniforms and proud to be part of the school.

I talked about all of this to say that I'm excited for Forest City-Dunbar as well. Not only have they been giving me good articles to write lately, but they saw a problem and are taking monumental steps to fix it. The teachers and staff really want what is best for the students.

Brad has made it very clear each time I've interviewed him that without the support of the community and his employees, none of this would be possible.

"The teachers and everybody I've talked to seems to be looking forward to the change. I think it's going to take some adjustment on everybody's part but it's going to be effective in terms of academically," Brad said. "I don't think anybody I've talked to has had any questions on what they feel will be exciting for kids, which is the reason we decided to do this. We want to do anything we can to help our kids be as successful academically as they can be."

I want to say that besides being great at communicating with me as a reporter, I have enjoyed working with Brad and being able to write articles about all of the changes in the school. I look forward to working with Forest City-Dunbar in the future and I hope the change in the calendar provides the results you are looking for in the next few years.