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Alternative school calendar draws praise

Lecanto Primary School parents and teachers say the year-round schedule helps students retain what they learn.

By PAULETTE LASH RITCHIE

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 29, 2000


LECANTO -- At the end of its fifth year at Lecanto Primary School, parents and students who participate in the alternative calendar for school attendance still seem very pleased with it.

The school year is the same in length as the traditional calendar -- 180 days -- but the schedule eliminates the long summer break. Students attend school for nine weeks and then have a three-week break. The students finished their school year June 14 and will return July 17.

The breaks occur at the end of September, the end of December, in the spring -- usually aboutthe same time the traditional spring break -- and in the middle of June.

Lori Barnes, who has two children on the schedule, says its a wonderful program. She said the one drawback is the county will not provide transportation for students who opt for the alternative calendar.

Parent Tom Fix is also sold on the schedule. "I think it's a very good program. They retain their study habits better. There are more vacation options. The school building is utilized all year. I'd think the alternative program is the greatest program in the world," he said.

Grandparent Ken Johnson agrees. "I think it is far superior to the regular school schedule," he said. "My grandchildren have blossomed in the program. The shorter vacation doesn't allow them to forget."

Colleen Bueno pointed out that "we're one of the few, if not only, countries that doesn't follow a year-round program. This (alternative calendar) increases (students') desire to learn and they don't forget things as often."

Teacher Jill Bare says the advantage from a teacher's point of view is they know where the children are in their lessons.

Teacher Beth Cornelius said at first what she liked about the calendar was the breaks, but then she saw the advantages to the students. Her fourth-grade students move from her in the middle of June right into Marylynn Levengood's fifth-grade class in July. "I stopped with fractions and she just picked it up," Cornelius said. "We just keep the progression."

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