Calendar proposed for Early Education Center

John Richmeier
The Leavenworth Times

When it opens for the 2021-2022 school year, the Earl Lawson Early Education Center may have a different academic calendar than other schools in the Leavenworth district.

When they met Monday, Leavenworth school board members were presented a proposed continuous calendar for the new Early Education Center. Board members took no action on the proposal. The calendar will be brought before them again next month for consideration.

The calendar would not increase the number of school days for students at Lawson. But students would have additional days off during the school year. And the academic year for Lawson students would extend through June instead of ending in May.

This would shorten the summer break by about a month.

“It’s a mind shift for people to start thinking about what this will look like,” said Cathy Redelberger, director of special education.

Superintendent Mike Roth said school officials want to eliminate some of the learning loss students may experience between their kindergarten year and the first grade. He said this will help create a foundation for success for children.

The former Lawson Elementary School is being converted into the Earl Lawson Early Education Center as a result of a $36.7 million bond issue that was approved by voters in 2018.

The new Early Education Center will house the school district’s prekindergarten and kindergarten classes.

The proposed continuous learning calendar is intended for prekindergarten and kindergarten students at Lawson.

If the calendar is approved, students will begin classes Aug. 16. This will be the same start date for other schools in the district.

Unlike students in the other schools, Lawson students would have three weeks off in October.

Lawson students would have the usual winter break at Christmastime. They would have a three-week spring break in March. And their school year would end June 28.

District officials suggested enrichment programs could be made available for students during the long breaks.

“We know this decision is going to take some discussion,” Roth told board members.

School board member John Goodman said the proposal “is basically the year-round school model.”

“I would like to see all of our buildings go to this,” board Vice President Dannielle Wells said.

Board President Doug Darling said school officials will need to think about the amount of time teachers need during the summer for continuing education. He said some teachers also take summer jobs to supplement their income.

He said having a different schedule for Lawson could lead to problems for parents who have children in multiple schools. He said implementing the continuous calendar at all schools could create issues related to schedules for high school activities.

Darling said these issues need to be addressed when the calendar is brought back to the board for further consideration.

In other business

The Leavenworth Board of Education:

• Approved a resolution to begin the process of refunding, or refinancing bonds.

District officials believe the process could save the district $5.38 million.

• Renewed the contracts of employees who hold various director and assistant director positions. The contract renewals were approved as board members approved a staffing report which lists various personnel changes for the school district.