School’s in earlier than usual in San Mateo

Karen Caselli and Kelly Rodrigues were back at work almost a month earlier than last year at San Mateo’s George Hall Elementary School on Monday, and although the summer sun was shining, the teachers’ assistants didn’t seem to mind the end of vacation.

“It’s been different,” said Caselli. “I didn’t get as much time for the summer.”

On Wednesday, George Hall opens its doors for thenew school year, almost a month earlier than other traditional-calendar schools in the San Mateo-Foster City School District.

Earlier this year, the school became the seventh district site to adopt a year-round class schedule that administrators hope will raise test scores, help students progress through grade levels more easily and give everyone at the school a few well-placed breaks through the year.

The change was requested in January, and the district board voted unanimously in February to authorize the change.

In a year-round school, students and teachers are in session for nine weeks and then given three weeks off. For summer, students get six weeks before school resumes.

Students are still in school for the same number of days, but they are spread out more evenly through the calendar year.

“It gives us a more balanced calendar,” George Hall Principal Angela O’Donnell said. “Every time you need a break, you then get a break, so it helps you plan out the year better.”

Board President Mark Hudak said the decisions to go to the year-round schedules are getting easier each time they vote. Having Abbott Middle School on a similar schedule has made it an easier decision, because students can flow from their year-round elementary schools into a year-round middle school.

O’Donnell said the benefit to students is that without several months of downtime in the summer, they’ll hold on to more of what they learned previously and carry that over into the next school year.

In going year-round, George Hall joins Beresford, Brewer Island, Parkside and College Park elementary schools, Fiesta Gardens International School and Abbott Middle School.

Around the state, there were 1,127 public elementary schools using year-round education programs and 146 middle schools during the 2005-06 school year, according to the California Department of Education.

jgoldman@examiner.com


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