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The 2013-2014 school year will be extended at two Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools in order to provide additional instructional time. In addition, two schools will operate on a continuous learning calendar, a statement from CMS said Tuesday.
The modified calendars will be managed and funded by Project Leadership and Investment for Transformation (L.I.F.T.), a philanthropic initiative to improve schools in the West Charlotte corridor.
Project L.I.F.T., which oversees nine schools in West Charlotte, requested the extra instructional time to prevent learning loss that occurs when students are out of school for the summer, officials said.
Project L.I.F.T. will pay the additional costs incurred by the extended calendars, which are expected to be about $2.2 million, and will also provide optional enrichment activities for students during the periods when school is not in session.
Under the plan approved by the Board of Education, two K-8 schools will operate under a continuous learning calendar that will spread the required 180 days of instruction across the whole year, including the summer.
Walter G. Byers School and Bruns Academy will begin the next school year on July 23, almost a month before the regular school calendar starts, and end June 13. In addition to the traditional winter break, the schools will have three-week breaks in April and October and will observe the traditional CMS winter and spring breaks, the release states.
Two other schools – Thomasboro Academy, a K-8 school, and Druid Hills Academy, a PreK-8 school, will shift to a continuous learning calendar that will add 19 days to the school year, which begins July 22 and ends June 20.
Those schools will have two-week breaks in April and October, in addition to the traditional winter and spring breaks.
Denise Watts, zone superintendent of Project L.I.F.T., presented the organization's plan to the Board at its January 22 meeting.
She told the Board that all students experience summer learning loss when they do not engage in educational activities during the time away from school. Educational research has shown such learning loss accounts for more than half of the achievement gap between lower-income students and their higher-income classmates, she said.
Watts also told the Board that the longer calendars are based on what Project L.I.F.T. learned from programs that served 1,700 students in the summer of 2012. Students attended Building Educated Leadership for Life (BELL) schools, Freedom Schools or an academy to help struggling high school students recover academic credits needed to graduate.
Parental response to those summer schools was positive, with parents saying their children gained confidence in reading and liked it more. Students in the BELL program gained an average of five months of math skills and seven months of reading skills during the summer, Watts said.