School is back in session in early August this year for the nearly 7,500 students enrolled in Brownsburg Community Schools.
It's the first year for the district’s so-called balanced calendar.
"Other township schools and area schools [are] reporting a lot of success that they really liked that calendar. It made a lot of sense in a number of ways," explained Donna Petraits, Communications Coordinator for Brownsburg Community School Corporation.
The balanced calendar sends students back to the classroom earlier in the summer. The school year consists of four, nine-week grading periods. Students go back in late July or early August for nine weeks with a two-week break for fall. After that, they return for nine weeks, followed by a two-week winter break. After a subsequent nine-week grading period, students get two weeks for spring break. School gets out in May; summer break lasts eight weeks.
Petraits said the idea is to help keep students fresh and focused throughout the entire year.
"It also provides more timely opportunity for remediation throughout the year. Instead of cramming it in during summer school, they can work on that periodically as the year goes on," Petraits said.
Warren Township adopted a balanced calendar three years ago.
"One of the benefits is teachers report that at the beginning of the school year they have to review less because students are remembering the information," said Lee Ann Kwiatkowski, Assistant to the Superintendent for School Improvement at Warren Township Community School Corporation.
Warren Township also keeps its early childhood education center open during the two-week breaks throughout the school year so working parents have an option for childcare.
"With behavior, we found that it’s nice to have those breaks after nine weeks in school because it helps with motivation and it helps with children staying focused in classroom," said Kwiatkowski.
Indianapolis Public Schools, Avon Schools, Wayne Township Schools and Franklin Township schools have also adopted a similar schedule.
Not everyone agrees, however, that the balanced calendar is a good fit for families or an educational success.
Save Indiana Summers is a non-profit coalition advocating statewide research on the impact of a shorter summer break. The group is calling for a referendum before a school district can switch to a new calendar. Advocates for a traditional calendar also point out the economic impact of a shortened break on families who rely on students to take part-time summer jobs.
In Brownsburg, Petraits said the district surveyed parents and teachers. Both groups overwhelmingly supported the move. However, she said the new calendar isn't set in stone.
"If we get into the year and find out we have significant problems or it becomes very unpopular, then we’ll always take another look at that," said Petraits.