Assignment: Education – 45-15: A Look Back

La Crosse's first year-round school shares...

Unwinding at the end of the school day starts with a snack for first grader Sebastian Nerud-Sersch. He’s worked hard at school all day studying his favorite subjects.

“Math and reading,” said Sebastian.

He attends the La Crosse School District’s first year-round school at Hamilton Early Learning Center.

“We have four main breaks, and because Hamilton’s breaks are short, we have a lot of hidden breaks,” said Sebastian.

Those hidden breaks are three-week intersessions which took place in October, December and April. The 4th break begins June 6th when the kids start their 6-week summer.

“This schedule has suited us beyond compare,” said Deborah Nerud, Sebastian’s mother.

Her son attended all three intersessions and used the available onsite surround care throughout the school-year while his parents were at work.

“I have no worries; no fears about their day being filled and safe, and that they have a good time,” said Nerud. “It’s all people I trust.”

Academically, Sebastian didn’t suffer from summer-slide and has shown no signs of regression throughout the school year. After every break, he has picked up where he left off.

“You’re building. There is a pause, but you never go backwards,” said Nerud. “You just build from each time.”

“There is no doubt those children maintained over their intersession-time,” said Steve Michaels, Hamilton Early Learning Center principal. “There is no doubt having smaller groups of kids working with a qualified teacher for three hour blocks of time was beneficial. There is no question that that was good.”

Sebastian isn’t the only student that has done well with this year-round calendar. The Developmental Reading Assessments, or DRA, given at the beginning of the school year, show two students regressed in 1st grade, four students regressed in 2nd grade, and 2 students regressed in 3rd grade. Hamilton’s principal said last year those numbers were double.

“It’s reasonable to assume that if you shorten the length of the summer, the students will remember more,” said Michaels. “I don’t think it’s that perfunctory in nature. But it’s nice to have that backing us up.”

Supportive statistics were also seen when it comes to student behavior.

“We saw a 40% drop in office referrals from last year to this year,” said Michaels. “So, that was pretty remarkable and very unexpected.”

Michaels credits the consistent routine offered by the 45-15 school calendar for the improved behavior.

And for parents like Deborah, the positive outcomes she’s seen from this year-round calendar have encouraged her to re-enroll Sebastian and sign up her daughter Beatrice.

Even though I’m not living right in that neighborhood anymore, it’s worth the drive and a few extra minutes to make sure that they get there,” said Nerud.

Because for the Nerud family, the calendar has been a good mix.