The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

August 15, 2013

Back to school: Balanced schedule kicks in at Camanche

By Amy Kent
Herald Staff Writer

CAMANCHE — Around every corner and on every business marquee, reminders of the beginning of the school year linger in the air.

For the Camanche School District, though, that beginning has already arrived.

After adopting a balanced semester schedule for all three Camanche schools, the first day of classes began Tuesday, two days earlier than the other schools in the area.

“In a school year there are 180 days. With this new system we will have 90 days in each semester,” Superintendent Tom Parker said. “Starting (school) on the 13th allows us to have those 90 days in before winter break.”

The Camanche School Board initially introduced the balanced semester schedule to Parker and staff last winter, who strongly favored the concept.

“We believe the advantage is that when students come back from the winter holidays, they can start fresh with a new curriculum to learn,” Parker said.

Another strong advantage to the new schedule is that a student’s ability and desire to learn are more prominent during the beginning of a school year rather than at the end of one.

“Typically students are more prepared and the quality of learning is better here in August, than say late May or early June. So, by starting earlier, we can end earlier,” Parker said.

Since the new schedule has taken effect, Parker has received mixed reviews, but said for the most part people have adjusted nicely, only complaining of a shortened summer.

He also expects there to be an adjustment period for students, but once they get used to the new schedule, it will be an easy transition.

“It just makes sense,” Parker said. “Time is so valuable in education and we try to find ways to utilize as much of that time as we can.”

Some other new things welcomed Camanche students to the 2013-14 school year including 10 new teachers, a new middle school principal and a new combined activities director and Response to Instruction coordinator.

Parker also added that for the first time in two years all of the construction projects in the three schools have completely finished by the first set of classes.

“Our goal every year is how can we improve student learning and student achievement,” Parker said. “Now we can get back to that normal routine.”