School Calendars Updated After ACPS Selected for Year-Round School Pilot Program

By Julia Bauer
Kids around table at school doing a craft with construction paper

School Calendar Updates

Metcalfe Elementary School will no longer follow the year-round school pilot program calendar.

“The Florida Department of Education has approved the district’s request to keep Metcalfe Elementary School on a traditional 10-month calendar while moving forward with a year-round schedule at Rawlings Elementary School for the 2024-25 school year,” according to the Alachua County Public Schools news release.

Rawlings will continue to follow the year-round schedule, and the first day of school will be July 16, according to the news release. You can view the full year-round calendar here.

The district is notifying families of this change and information about requesting a “zoning exception for their child,” according to the news release. “If approved for a zoning exception, a child at Rawlings could attending Metcalfe and vice-versa to take advantage of the calendar they prefer.”

Learn more about zoning exceptions here.

ACPS Selected for Year-Round School Pilot Program

ACPS has been selected as one of three Florida school districts to participate in Florida’s Year-Round School Pilot Program. Prior to the states approval for Metcalfe to remain on the 10-month calendar, Metcalfe and Rawlings were set follow a year-round school year calendar.

Marion County, Brevard County and the PK Yonge Developmental Research School in Gainesville will also participate in the program.

What is the Year-Round School Pilot Program?

A 2023 state law established the Year-Round School Pilot Program, according to the ACPS news release. Districts applied to participate in the program and must provide data illustrating the results of the year-round school calendar to the Florida Department of Education. From there, the governor and Florida Legislature will consider expanding the program, according to the news release.

Will my child benefit?

When ACPS applied for the program, its goals included improving student academic performance, attendance and behavior, according to the news release. One of the benefits of the program is reducing the learning loss that occurs during summer break. Other benefits include uninterrupted school programs, stronger student-staff bonds and continuous academic support.

“As a former teacher and principal, I saw so many students who lost a lot of ground academically over the summer,” Superintendent Shane Andrew said in the news release.  “I’m excited about the great potential this program has to provide the students at Metcalfe and Rawlings with the consistent support they need to keep learning throughout the year.”

How will school change?

ACPS is currently working on the details of implementing the program, such as creating the calendars for Metcalfe and Rawlings, according to the news release. The program will not change the number of days students attend school; the calendar will still consist of 180 school days. However, summer break will be much shorter because the school year would start in July, according to the news release.

The district will make efforts to align the current school breaks (Thanksgiving break, spring break, etc.) with those in the new school calendars, according to the news release. ACPS is also working on the plans for adjusting after school programs, transportation and school meals.

What does school staff say?

Dr. Stella Arduser, the Rawlings Elementary principal, spoke with the School Advisory Council and her faculty (which includes parents), according to the news release. She says she understands the adjustments necessary with changing the school calendar and believes the program may be a “game-changer for the students.”

“This is a possibility that hasn’t been tapped into, and maybe this is what we’ve needed all along,” she said in the news release. “Some of our students already come to summer school, so why not make year-round instruction part of the educational experience and fabric here at Rawlings Elementary School?”

Christiana Robbins, the Metcalfe Elementary principal, has also spoken with members of her staff and parents about the Year-Round School Pilot Program.

“They’re definitely open to the potential benefits, but of course they’re also interested in hearing the details,” she said in the news release. “We want to make a long-lasting impact on our students’ achievement, and this could be the answer that everyone is looking for.”

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