Assignment: Education – Update: Flexible Calendar

Wisconsin DPI rejects waiver request to adopt...

In March, seven area school districts asked the state if they could start school in mid-August beginning in the 2015-16 school year. Those school districts include Bangor, Holmen, La Crosse, Onalaska, Sparta, Tomah and West Salem.

The plan was a part of what is called a flexible calendar. It would include three intersessions, or breaks, during the months of October, February and April.

This week, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction said no. The DPI said the proposed flexible calendar didn’t satisfy the requirements of a year-round school. It left too much of a summer break between June and August.

The DPI also didn’t approve starting school before September first. Currently, in the State of Wisconsin, school districts aren’t allowed to start school before the first of September unless the school is on a year-round calendar.

“A next step is really working with our legislators to do what they can to repeal that law; period,” said Randy Nelson, superintendent of the La Crosse School District. “And doesn’t require school districts to start after September 1. If that’s the case, it will be really easy to support other calendars that start before September 1.”

Nelson said the district will move forward with designing a more traditional calendar for the 2015-16 school year.

But believes it’s time for educators and community members to start thinking about the purpose of a school calendar, and if it meets the needs of students and state requirements to raise student achievement.