Mixed reviews come in area’s year-round school programs

Some parents wish their children could attend a year-round school because they think three months of summer vacation is too long.

Most Minnesotans believe school shouldn’t start until after the last day of the Minnesota State Fair.

Several schools in the Twin Cities area have year-round schedules, with students generally studying 45 days with 15-day breaks and one-month summer vacations. Each has a unique program.

One year-round elementary school is Harambee in Maplewood, where Kathy Griebel is the principal. The 435 students started school there Sept. 3 and will finish July 30, with breaks of two weeks or more in November, over the winter holiday and in February and May, and they’re off in August. Even during the breaks, students who are behind in their lessons can get special help.

As you would expect, principals of year-round schools say having a shorter summer vacation enables students to settle in easier and to spend less time reviewing.

Griebel said her students don’t suffer from having only one month of summer vacation. She believes that having school in June and July is particularly good for children from poor families, because they get to experience summer trips to libraries and museums they normally couldn’t afford. National research backs up her claim.

Teachers also welcome the 15-day breaks as times to reset and develop lessons and techniques.

As for student progress, Griebel said she and the staff agree that students are making good growth and learning the standards.

Crosswinds year-round school in Woodbury concentrates on science and the arts. It is governed by the Perpich Center for the Arts. The 173 students attend school in June and July and have August off.

The Cambridge-Isanti School District, specifically in Isanti, has a different version of a year-round school program. It offers the year-round and the traditional programs in the School For All Seasons for grades K-5. The Minnesota Center, for students in grades six through eight at the Isanti Middle School site, offers the same choices.


Don Heinzman is a columnist for ECM Publishers and a member of the ECM Editorial Board.