News and notes from Reston (tm).

Friday, December 11, 2009

Dogwood Elementary May Lose Year-Round School Calendar

Dogwood Elementary, the only Title I school in Reston, may lose its innovative year-round calendar in the same round of budget cuts that are imperiling elementary music, language immersion and full-day kindergarten throughout Fairfax County.

Seven Fairfax County elementary schools operating on a modified calendar could lose their extra instructional time as a result of budget cuts during the next two school years.

Most Fairfax schools are in session from early September to mid-June, but 10 schools have a different calendar, operating almost year-round without the traditional 2 1/2-month summer break.

This fall, officials have asked the seven elementary schools with an alternative schedule, including Dogwood in Reston, to prepare their communities for a return to the commonly used nine-month school year.

The modified elementary school calendar provides more flexibility for an extended school year. Children sometimes take part in two-week intensive classes that offer an opportunity to intensive remedial work in core subjects, accelerated learning or enrichment exercises like cooking classes.

Those schools that employ the modified calendar tend to serve students who come from low-income households or are non-native English speakers. Six of seven elementary schools on a modified calendar receive additional money, called "Title I" funds, because they are among the dozen or so schools with the neediest populations in the county.

At Dogwood, for example, approximately 62 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced-price meals at school and a little over 46 percent are not considered English proficient.

FAIRFAX SCHOOLS superintendent Jack Dale has proposed letting the elementary schools keep their modified calendar next year if they can financially support it through the extra "Title I" funding they received from the federal government. He does not want to spend the more flexible general education dollars, those supplied by the county and state, on the modified calendar in elementary schools because of the system's overall budget shortfall.

The following school year, which starts in the fall of 2011, no extra federal money is expected to be available to these schools and Dale has proposed ceasing the use of an elementary school modified calendar altogether.
While alternative scheduling has had a mixed record of success in Fairfax County, national studies suggest that year-round school schedules are helpful for struggling students. Given that Dogwood is already under double secret probation for failing to meet NCLB testing benchmarks, cutting instructional time seems like a penny-wise, pound-foolish decision.

Last week, the Fairfax County School Board voted to postpone a decision on ending the modified calendar until its Feb. 4 meeting.


  1. Hmm. Seems they were already talking about this a few months ago... I thought it was a done deal already.

  2. I actually thought they were already off the year-round schedule, as of last year?? I had heard so from people with kids at the school...

  3. Why are we being spammed! Make it stop!!!

  4. The Convict in the GulagDecember 14, 2009 at 12:15 PM

    That's not spam. That's this years PTA fundraiser products. Who needs candles and wrapping paper when you can get a faux gucci handbag?


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