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Rock Crusher Elementary cancels year-round schedule

Based on a recommendation from the school principal, the alternative calendar session at Rock Crusher Elementary has been canceled for the next school year.

The two-year-old experimental program allowed students to attend school year-round, with shorter breaks than the traditional calendar's extended summer vacation. The alternative calendar coincided with the traditional Christmas and spring breaks.

Thursday night, Principal Nancy Simon recommended to the school's Enhancement Council that the alternative program be canceled. On a secret ballot, the council voted 18-1 to support Simon's recommendation.

Enrollment in the kindergarten, fifth grade and Exceptional Student Education programs was too low to justify assigning teachers to the alternative calendar, Simon said. Doing so would have placed the rest of the teachers in overcrowded classrooms, she said.

Only 18 fifth-grade students were enrolled in the alternative calendar program for next year. A normal class has 28 students.

Thursday night's move came after parents were notified by letter in late March that the program was likely to be discontinued.

"We tried to make this work for months," Simon said.

Simon said the most frequently cited reasons for the low enrollment included scheduling conflicts with after-school care and with siblings in middle and high schools, which do not offer the alternative schedule.

One mother of a second-grader attending the alternative session said she was sorry to see the program canceled. She said her son liked the shorter breaks and retained classroom lessons better.

"I'm disappointed with the vote," said Michelle Leeper. "Even though it fit our lifestyle, the primary reason we liked it was because of its academic benefits."

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