ELIZABETH - Wirt County Schools' superintendent wants to explore creating a year-round calendar for the 2013-14 school year.
Superintendent Dan Metz said he recently spoke to staff members about creating a "balanced calendar," but said the issue is still in its earliest stages.
"We are definitely looking at putting the idea out there," he said. "We definitely want to explore that for the 2013-14 school year, but at this time that is all we are doing."
Metz said the school system is in the process of finalizing its 2012-13 school calendar, which remains in the traditional style of holding an extended break during the summer months. Metz said that calendar is set to be approved in May.
Metz said he likely will begin establishing committees soon after to look at the 2013-14 calendar.
"I didn't want to have two calendars floating around at the same time confusing the issue," he said.
Metz said he brought the idea to his staff in February and already has had people in the community voice opposition to him and at school board meetings. In most cases, he said, misinformation or lack of information led to the outcries.
"There are a lot of questions you have to answer, and I could answer most of those questions now, but I think it is better that information come through the committees' work," he said. "We are going to be looking and seeing if this is something our community is interested in doing. Your community needs to be behind it for it to work."
But Metz added he is already a fan of the balanced calendar idea.
"Personally, I like it," he said, adding research has shown students retain more information with shorter breaks in instruction. Metz also said the long summer break had its roots in seasonal work when families needed children to help on their farms.
"As a whole, that is not true anymore," he said.
Some of the logistical issues facing a year-round school calendar already have been addressed. For example, some school systems struggle with having sufficient cooling capabilities during the sweltering summer months.
"We run our buildings all summer now any way," he said. "Our schools are ready for that."
The change in calendar would not change the length of employee contracts or the required 180 days of instruction, he said. The balanced calendar would simply spread several smaller breaks throughout the year, rather than three months off during the summer, he said.
Other issues and concerns, however, will have to be investigated and addressed by the committees.
"What does it do to food service, what does it do to transportation?" Metz said. "What does it mean for those buildings during the summer? How do you take care of those facility issues with the buildings being perpetually ready for school?
"I think the best way to answer a lot of those questions is through committee work," he said. "We will probably start that process in May or June."
Metz stressed no final decisions have been made.
"We truly are just in the process of looking at this," he said. "If our community is truly against it, I would not advance it."