200 Days

Dr. Kevin Baxter explains the move to 200 Day Calendar

Elementary School System Begins Move to a 200-Day Academic Calendar
January 27, 2011 By admin
Archdiocese of Los Angeles Elementary School System
Begins Move to a 200-Day Academic Calendar
Dr. Kevin Baxter
Superintendent of Elementary Schools
January 27, 2011

My name is Dr. Kevin Baxter, and I am superintendent of elementary education for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

It is the goal of the Department of Catholic Schools to have as many elementary schools as possible move to a 200-day academic year for the 2011-2012 academic calendar. Local school sites will still have flexibility with regard to start and end dates, but it is expected that the vast majority of schools will move to an extended calendar for the 2011-2012 school year. This initiative is for the Catholic elementary schools. The length of the school year in Catholic high schools will remain the same.

The primary motivation for the extension of the school year is to benefit our students. Catholic schools have a tradition of excellence and rigor when it comes to education, and our focus on moral, as well as intellectual, development produces well rounded students who are well formed in our Catholic faith.
Our schools take the Iowa Test of Basic Skills each Fall and the results from 2010 show that an average 8th grader in the Archdiocese [based on n=6178] performs better than 65% of the rest of the country in core subjects – reading, language and math. We are very proud of these results but we also know that there is room for growth and that we cannot settle for the status quo. The school year extension accentuates our reputation for excellence and further demonstrates to parents who are contemplating a Catholic school the emphasis on quality of education at our schools.
As Cardinal Mahony mentioned, at 180 days, the U.S. is at the bottom internationally with regard to the length of the school year. Along with that, the competition our children will face when they enter college and the workforce will not come from the neighborhood, as it did when adults today were in school. It will come from other countries. If you take 25 percent of the students with the highest IQ in India, it surpasses the total number of students in the US. Meaning they have more honor students than we have students in total. The reality that all parents must deal with is that the world is changing and our students will engage in technologies not yet invented to address issues that come from around the globe. Education in the United States for the most part is the same today as it was 50 and 100 years ago. We must adapt and develop for the demands of 21st century.

It is important to stress that local schools have the freedom to set their own calendars, to best accommodate their unique communities. A sample calendar given to principals has a start date of August 16 and an end date of June 22 but this may be different at different locations. However, in the sample calendar, the summer break is shortened, but it is still nearly two months in length.

As a father of five children ages 12 to 21 months, I appreciate family time and the need to have a break from the rigors of the school year. The ideal is that the plan to increase the length of the year will actually mitigate some of the intensity that students experience in some of our schools due to the amount of material that needs to get taught. The length of the summer break will still allow for substantive time with family.

This 11% increase in instructional time will result in an approximate 10% increase in salaries for staff. However, the amount of tuition increase will vary from location to location. For example, some schools with under enrollment that see a significant increase in students may not need to increase tuition significantly. Other schools will need to increase tuition up to 10% in order to support the increase in salaries. As always, we will continue to work with low income families to address possible financial challenges, as we have done since the founding of Catholic schools. We want to ensure that no family leaves any Catholic school because of the increase in tuition. Our goal is to continue to provide the best educational opportunities
for students to excel and succeed. This is a needed investment in the future of our children.

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