The Bibb County Board of Education has some big decisions to make at their next meeting Thursday.
They’ll have to come up with a plan for replacing Superintendent Romain Dallemand, who left abruptly—if not unexpectedly—this week.
Board members are also scheduled to vote on next year’s academic calendar, and whether to follow through on one of Dallemand’s most controversial proposals: year-round school.
Under the proposed calendar, the number of days in class would stay the same at 180. But instead of getting one big vacation in the summer, students would get four smaller breaks, evenly spaced through the year.
"I like the idea because I feel like our summer breaks are too long anyways," said Central High School 10-grader Queen Semaj.
"Most of the time after the first month, nobody’s doing anything and we forget everything we learned over the break, and it makes school harder when we come back," Semaj said.
Her classmate, Yufiel Franklin agreed. "I would miss our summer break, but I think it will give us more time to spread out our work day and get our work done more efficiently," he said.
Many other students in their class felt that shorter breaks would benefit them academically. But of course, high school sophomores have more on their minds than academics.
"I do a lot of soccer camps and stuff over the summer," said Yakira Wilson. "I’m kind of worried that I won’t be able to make certain ones."
Another student athlete, Diamond Owens, worried about making her summer track schedule; she’s hoping to get a track scholarship for college.
Some students said they worry about losing the money they make at summer jobs.
Others think it could be harder to travel during the shorter breaks. "My mom doesn’t live here, I live with my dad," said Emery Coston, "so the travel schedule would be kind of hard."
Those difficulties aside, research suggests students have something to gain from a year-round calendar.
"The modified school calendar has a very small but positive effect on kids' academic achievement," said Harris Cooper, chair of Duke University's Department of Psychology & Neuroscience, and a nationally recognized expert on year-round school.
"However, for children who come from poor economic backgrounds, the effect may be appreciably larger than that," Cooper said, in part because kids from low-income households don’t have as many opportunities for summer learning enrichment.
About three-quarters of Bibb County public school students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. Such a district, Cooper said, may have more to gain from year-round school than most.
Contributors: Caley Anderson, Samantha Ballard, Laura Corley, Marin Guta, Michael Roberts, Sameera Yusuf