Tuesday, July 20, 2010


 Have you ever seen the movie, You've Got Mail with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan?  In it, they develop an e-mail flirtation in which, on a crisp September day, the Tom Hanks character writes to the Meg Ryan character "Don't you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address."

That line makes me tingle.  It just paints such a perfect picture for me, of a world I love.  The first snap in the air of early fall.  The post-Labor Day excitement.  I love the blank notebooks and big pink erasers.  The clear plastic protractor, the scissors with dull, round tips,  the compass with a point so sharp you could impale yourself and often did.  Blank paper and a full schedule.  Ahh.  The promise that is back-to-school.

Yesterday, was Jonah's first day of kindergarten.  But, it is only July.  That is because we live in a "year-round" school district.  At first, I was very disappointed.  And, I will admit, back-to-school in July is just not the same.  There is the raging heat, for one thing.  But it has not been all bad.

I worked up a pretty good level of excitement, as did my junior scholar.  And, the best part.  The local discount stores opened their back-to-school departments two weeks ago!  Last Friday afternoon, Target was packed with moms, and would-be students, and teachers, all visiting over the stacks of binders and book covers.  Reams of paper were stacked in big yellow card board bins.  There were new backpacks waiting for new owners.  Lunch boxes, and pencil boxes, and boxes of crayons.  All new, and fresh, gleaming with the potential of the new school year.  And, the air conditioning was up so high, it almost felt like fall.

So, I am adapting to year-round.

A few of you have asked me, what, exactly, do I mean by "year-round"?  Well, feast your eyes on this my pretties.

This is the district calendar.  Click to enlarge.  Seriously.  It is fascinating.

I have, honestly, spent hours gazing at this thing.  You see, before Jonah entered school, I had to request a "track" and I wanted to make sure I requested the right one.  Because once you are on a track, you are on it for life.  All subsequent students in your family will be on it, too.  It is a big decision.  Not one that could be taken lightly because we are not planning on living in this district forever.  Plans can go awry.  I had to think long term.

There are four tracks, A (green), B (yellow), C (red), and D (blue).  Like most districts, only the elementary  and middle schools follow the track/year-round system.  The high schools, for reasons of competitive sports, go back to a traditional schedule (purple).  Our district has also started using something called a "modified traditional" schedule (orange).   In fact, some of our elementary schools aren't year-round either.  Samuel and Jonah are in different schools this year, and on completely different schedules, though that does not usually happen until one of your kids moves on to high school.

They do this to save money.  They can squeeze more kids into the school this way.  If you look closely, you will see there are only three tracks going on any one day.  I am not quite sure about the classroom logistics, but they tell me it works.

We are B Track, the yellow one.  That's the lingo.  And we go "off track," not on summer vacation.

It's craziness, I know, but it is what I have to work with.  So, like I said above, I am adapting.  I don't see any point in crying on my bouquet of newly sharpened pencils.


  1. Other that the school how the hell can anyone get any good out of this twisted method. I thought when you first mentioned this what you meant was the kid would be in a school environment such you could arrange your family holiday around the break in the school year. But this defines a level of pure educational insanity I have ever seen. On your route, he will have four weeks, then a break for four. Back until Thanksgiving and off 'til January, six weeks.
    This defines the exact opposite of convenience for the two parents.

  2. Vince, um, yup. This is cheaper for the school district than building another school. This particular school holds about 750 students on any given day. With the year-round plan, it can enroll 1000.

    I am a little annoyed by the four weeks on/four weeks off at the beginning of the year, but I rather like having all of December off. Schools aren't allowed to celebrate Christmas anymore, so I can have him at home for that whole months and we can do Christmas stuff together.

  3. I know a teacher in a year round school and she loves it. I guess there are pros and cons to both.

  4. wow...that's really interesting! and since when can schools not celebrate christmas?? they still do here in australia. i wonder if it's changed in canada too...i get that people have different beliefs but that's why you celebrate all holidays, not just leave them out!

  5. Good thing you've got that post grad degree or you'd never figure that schedule out.

    Actually, many many moons ago (like 30 years), I went to a split day high school so the county wouldn't have to buid another facility. Half went to school from 7-noon; the other half from noon-5. It wasn't great, but it worked.

    I think the year-round school idea is a really good one. Unless you're a teacher : )

  6. I always loved the IDEA of year-round school, even as a teacher, because you get several one-month vacations instead of that big block of summer, when vacation spots are too packed with families, and kids get totally zoned out on boredom and too much tv/computer/ice cream. The problem was that our school district in FL explored year-round, and would not guarantee that ALL children in the same family could be on the same track...not even those in the same school! In theory, I love the idea, and I think educationally, the kids retain more between sessions. As long as you get a good month of summer time fun...think of the ski vacations and springtime in Paris!

  7. But what about the family that NEEDS the two parents to work. In the past the summer school/camp performed that roll.
    And Tracey you are fine this year, but in a few were you in the same district.
    Further I'll bet you that the teachers do quite a lot more hours in this system.

  8. Cari, the holiday celebration standards are set locally around here. Each district is different, and sometimes there are differences between schools in the same district. California, in particular, is very worried about getting sued be atheists. There are law suits every year about something, but it is not Muslims or Jews complaining about Christmas, it is a litigious group of extremist atheists. There is alot of that in the country as a whole. So much so that even if every kid in the class celebrated Christmas, you are not allowed to do it in class.

  9. I remember year-round. Not a fan as a kid. Don't know if I'd like it as a mom.

    And the line from you've got mail. I love it too :)

    Now I must go play wack-a-mole