Baker School District considering two draft calendars for next school year

By on Friday, February 9th, 2024 in More Top Stories Northeastern Oregon News

BAKER CITY — The Baker 5J School District is in the process of finalizing its academic calendar for the 2024/2025 school year, and parents, staff, and community members are invited to provide their input on two draft calendars recently released by the district.

The calendars were developed as a result of a recent meeting of the calendar committee, comprising representatives from certified staff, teachers, classified staff, confidential staff, administrators, parents, and school board members. The committee aimed to gather diverse perspectives to ensure a well-rounded approach to calendar planning.

Lindsey Bennington-McDowell, a spokesperson for the Baker School District, provided insights into the committee’s approach and the feedback received. She says the committee sought input on the strengths and weaknesses of the current calendar, non-negotiables for the next school year, and out-of-the-box ideas. 

“Notable themes that emerged included the desire for no Friday school following a Monday holiday, a full two weeks of Winter Break, and a surprising interest in exploring a balanced or modified year-round calendar,” said Bennington-McDowell.

She says the balanced calendar concept gained traction, with various groups expressing benefits such as reduced learning loss, better support for talented and gifted students, and addressing the needs of vulnerable students, including food security and daycare. With these considerations, the committee drafted two calendars, both maintaining the same number of student days as the current calendar.

The key difference between the two drafts lies in the length of Summer Break. One draft follows the traditional calendar with a 12-week Summer Break, while the other adopts a balanced approach with a shorter Summer Break and a week-long Fall Break. The Fall Break was introduced to accommodate the extra days resulting from the elimination of Friday school after a Monday holiday.

“I want to emphasize that these calendars are in the draft stage and are open to feedback from the community,” said Bennington-McDowell. “The committee is particularly interested in understanding preferences regarding the distribution of school days and breaks throughout the year.”

To gather public input, the district has provided a form that can be accessed by clicking here.

Feedback can be submitted until the end of next week, with the next school board meeting scheduled for February 20th. Depending on the feedback received, the board may address the calendar at their February meeting or continue discussions in their March meeting.

“It is essential for parents, staff, and community members to participate in the feedback process to ensure that the finalized calendar reflects the preferences and needs of the Baker 5J School District community,” said Bennington-McDowell. “The final decision rests with the school board, who will consider the feedback gathered by the calendar committee.”