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Newberry County explores possibility of year-round learning for students starting in 2023

The Newberry County School District is seeking feedback from community members about if they would prefer a nine-week on, two-week off school schedule.

NEWBERRY COUNTY, S.C. — Newberry County School District has released a proposed new school schedule for the 2023-24 school year. This new schedule would have students attending school for nine weeks and then getting a two-week break.

This would mean students would not have the traditional summer break, but would instead have a series of longer breaks throughout the year.

Lucy Meetze is the Chairman of Newberry County School Board and a retired teacher. She says she’s heard people who are both in favor and against this proposal.

"It’s just like any other idea," Meetze said. "You’ve got folks on both sides.”

One community member in favor of the proposal is Molly Fortune. She has two children in the district.

Fortune says she supports this new idea. Not only does she say she's "always felt" that children "fall behind" in the summer, but she also thinks this schedule may help outside of academics.

"On the emotional level, these kids aren't seeing each other during the summertime," Fortune said. "And I think that that emotional attachment and that growing emotionally is so incredibly important as well."

Meetze says she hopes this modified schedule would help with another issue she hears about: burnout.

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"From teachers that are for this idea, one of things I’m hearing is they need those breaks because they get burned out and their students get burned out," Meetze said.

She also says this could help students who want remediation. If students are falling behind schedule, they can meet with teachers during the two-week breaks instead of waiting for summer classes.

People who disagree, however, have raised concerns about childcare for working parents who may have trouble with the proposed schedule. Some residents also have hesitations about how it may impact students' sports schedules.

Meetze says she's heard different opinions from residents. When it comes down to making a decision, she says there is more work to be done.

"I’ve heard a lot of folks like ‘Well I don’t know what to choose now.’ So they need some more information," Meetze said.

The board intends to provide that information, according to Meetze. She said they will discuss the proposal at their upcoming meeting on Monday. 

The district has released a survey to gauge community responses. If initial results show that Newberry County doesn’t want the new schedule, Meetze says plans will stop. 

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Once this upcoming school year gets underway, she says the board will host meetings where Newberry County residents will be able to voice their opinions.

"We’re going to have to know that this is what our county would like to do," she said.

Part of this information will come from researching other schools that have implemented modified schedules, like nearby Greenwood School District. Greenwood switched to a similar modified schedule for the 2020-21 school year. Director of Communications Johnathan Graves said the response has been overwhelmingly positive. 

The district sent out a survey, which Graves said received 1,334 responses from parents to teachers to students and beyond. Almost 80% of the responses said they enjoyed the modified schedule.

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