Peoria Public Schools continue discussions on possible balanced calendar, majority of students return for in-person learning

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — The Peoria Public School board is returning to the discussion of considering transitioning to a balanced calendar to address learning loss due to the pandemic, but it may not get implemented until the end of 2022.

When the idea of a balanced calendar originally came up for District 150 in 2017, one of the reasons board members said the idea wasn’t feasible was due to lack of air-conditioning in all of the schools.

Board president Doug Shaw said all of the schools should have air-conditioning by August of 2021, but since a balanced calendar would have to start in July, this pushes back potential implementation until the 2022-2023 school year.

“We’re looking at a transition year for 2021-22 school year, because we cannot start until August 5 due to the HVAC and making sure that all of our buildings are air-conditioned,” Dr. Sandra Wilson, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum/Instruction, said.

During the board’s Monday night meeting, Wilson said so far sub-committee members, impact committees members, and core members, a total of 97 people from various stakeholders, have been meeting to address all of the concerns and considerations on the balanced calendar topic.

She said they’ll meet at least twice a week throughout January and February. Wilson also said next week parents in the district can expect to get a survey to give initial thoughts on the entire concept.

“We hope to gather all of that feedback and provide a draft balanced calendar proposal to the board of education next time we’re up here which is February 22,” Wilson said. “Our goal is to look at implementation of a balanced calendar in the 2022-23 school year.”

During Wilson’s last presentation she gave an example of what a balanced calendar year would look like.

  • 45 days of learning,
  • 15 days off for Fall Break,
  • 30 days of learning,
  • 3 days off for Thanksgiving Break,
  • 15 days of learning,
  • 15 days off for Winter Break
  • 45 days of learning
  • 15 days off for Spring Break
  • 45 days of learning
  • 30 days off for Summer Break

Also at Monday’s meeting, Superintendent Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat gave an update on the district’s return to school plan.

She said 9,500 students have returned to in-person learning and 777 students were tested for COVID-19 last week.

“Just for tests conducted the week of the 19th through the 22nd, 777, our positivity rate is 0.9%,” Kherat said.

She said the goal is to have 1,000 students tested this week.

Due to uncertainty among board members, they also tabled a proposal to approve the Varsity Tutors service costing $175,000 that would provide additional tutoring sessions for students k-12. The service would provide 5,000 hours of tutoring sessions including one-on-one sessions and instant 24/7 sessions

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