Rusty Surette, News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Oklahoma City Public Schools board unanimously approved a new school year calendar that will reduce the time off students get for the summer.

The approved Continuous Calendar will shorten the summer break from 12 to 8 weeks and will lengthen other breaks scheduled throughout the year.

"The time is right. It's a bold thing to do, but we have to do it now," said OKCPS Superintendent Karl Springer. "During our strategic planning community meetings, parents and teachers asked for dramatic and effective changes to help students be successful. This plan moves the district to a seamless educational calendar that will have a positive effect on student growth and achievement."

Supporters said beginning school August 1 will be an academic benefit.
"On average all students lose about a month of progress in math skills each summer," said Cindy Schmidt, OKCPS Chief Academic Officer. "This is a bold step moving the district forward in how we re-focus academics to meet the educational needs of the students of Oklahoma City Public Schools."

Students will attend the same number of school days, only now fall, winter and spring breaks will be longer in exchange for the shorter summer, but not all parents are pleased.

"If you change the calendar and you don't really change the parental involvement that's not really going to help," said Jenny White, Quail Creek Elementary parent.

Serious concerns are also coming in from businesses like Frontier City that depend on summer traffic. 

"We have the first two or three weeks of August are very important for us because the weather is so good,"said Larry Edgmon, Frontier City General Manager.

The amusement park also employs a high number of students to work in the summer. Some teachers who work during the summer will also take a hit.

"They're going to have less opportunity to acquire those jobs, do those jobs, and that's going to cut into their income," said Professor Jonathan Willnerm OCU economics professor.

But to that and to others who object to the new calendar, the board sent a clear message.

"This isn't about the adults, it's about the kids," said David Castill, Oklahoma City Public Schools board member.

According to an Oklahoma City Public Schools press release, the move will affect 69 OKCPS sites;  the other 7 OKCPS sites, Sequoyah Elementary, Westwood Elementary, FD Moon Elementary, Horace Mann Elementary, Rogers Middle, Webster Middle and Douglass Mid-High are already on the continuous learning calendar.

The new Continuous Calendar begins next school year.

Old Calendar                                                 
-Classes Begin August 22, 2011                 
-Fall Break- 2 days                                     
-Thanksgiving Break-3 days                           
-Winter Break- 2 weeks                                  
-Spring Break-1 week                                 
-School Ends-May 25, 2012       

Continuous Learning Calendar    
-Classes Begin August 1, 2011
-Fall Break- 2 weeks
-Thanksgiving Break- 3 days
-Winter Break- 3 weeks
-Spring Break-2 week
-School Ends June 1, 2012         

Future information meetings will be held to help educate parents and community on the new continuous learning calendar. A district task force will evaluate and make recommended changes and accommodations to meet the needs of implementing the continuous learning calendar.