Getting rid of summer; Elementary decides to go year round

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LA CROSSE, Wis (WEAU)- Say goodbye to summer. At least that’s what some kids will be doing this year as a western Wisconsin school decides to go year round.

Hamilton Elementary in La Crosse will begin the new program this summer after it was approved by the School Board Monday night. Parents seem to be embracing the year long idea saying it will hopefully decrease the learning gap.

Instead of having 3 months of summer vacation students will have 5 and-a-half weeks off and quarterly breaks.

“Instead of catching up over the summer we will be catching up over the quarters,” said Hamilton Kindergarten Teacher Traci Schneider.

Teachers have been talking with parents about the pros and cons of the year long school session for a long time and many seem to be thrilled.

“I am for it, I think it is going to be consistent for the children and will help some of that summer slide. I think an additional positive is that I don’t have to have childcare for him and have that additional expense for that 3 month period,” said parent of a Hamilton 1st grader, Kathy Haverland.

But Sue Frey, a volunteer in the school says she’s old fashioned when it comes to summer.

“I think that children deserve three months off in the summer,” said Frey.

Parents may be all for it but the kids might have a different opinion, at least at first.

“There will be dread July 18th of going back to school, but once they experience the first few breaks they will be into it,” said Schneider.

There will be 3 quarterly breaks called “intersessions”. Each break will consist of 15 days. Part of the break students can go to the school in the morning to get breakfast, lunch and catch up on schoolwork. In the afternoon Boys and Girls club has paired up with the school to offer service.

“15 days off around spring break, holiday break, and one in October as well. Students can come in ½ days in the morning and get enrichment or remediation,” said Hamilton Principal Steve Michael.

The school board only approved of the program for 3 years. If there is significant improvement in the learning gap and it’s not financially too costly the school will likely stay year round.

Principal Michael was unsure on how much the extra cost may be to keep the school open during the summer.