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Calendar would bring 'natural flow' to school year, CEO says

CMSD's proposed 2014-15 school calendar would create a "more natural flow" to the school year by stopping and resuming classes at more logical points, Chief Executive Officer Eric Gordon told the Board of Education on Tuesday.
The year would open earlier than ever, on Wednesday, Aug. 13, though Gordon said that is only three school days earlier than this year, which began on Monday, Aug. 19. The 2014-15 school year would end on Friday, May 22, the start of Memorial Day weekend.
The calendar would give students more instructional time before the first round of state assessments in October. It also would start the second marking period on Tuesday, Oct. 14, the day after students are off for Columbus Day, and close the first semester on Friday, Dec. 19, the beginning of winter break.
First-quarter interim progress reports would be released the week of Sept. 8, the same week as open houses, instead of after open houses, as in the past.
The calendar would continue to distance the start of classes from Labor Day. Gordon said an old practice of beginning the Thursday before the holiday led to families taking the first days off.
But it also would inch the District closer to offering year-round classes that would keep lessons fresh.  The Cleveland Plan, CMSD's state-approved blueprint for reform, encourages year-round options.
CMSD's MC2STEM High School already operates all year, alternating 10 weeks of classes with three-week breaks. MC2STEM and three new high schools -- two that will occupy John F. Kennedy High School after a year at another site and the downtown Cleveland High School for the Digital Arts -- will begin their school years on Monday, July 28.
Gordon acknowledged "a legitimate concern about heat in August," but said average temperatures are in the 80s throughout the month and can be higher in September. He said the District has canceled classes in the past when heat was extreme.
Some schools have proposed changing their hours, including two elementary schools that have asked to dismiss early on Fridays so teachers can meet, plan and participate in training. Gordon said changes in hours have been delayed until schools have "meaningful engagement" with families about the moves.
The board is to vote on the calendar by May 1. The board's April 22 meeting has been rescheduled for April 29 to provide more time for deliberation.