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Mount Vernon School District discusses new school calendar to reduce burnout in students, teachers

The district is considering modifying the calendar to shorten summer vacation in favor of shorter, more frequent breaks.

MOUNT VERNON, Wash. — The Mount Vernon School District is studying whether modifying the school year would better serve students and families.

"This is going to be a marathon of learning," said School Superintendent Ismael Vivanco.

Students would still go to school for the requisite 180 days per year, but instead of one big vacation in the summer, their breaks would be shorter and more frequent.

Vivanco stressed this would not be "year-round school."

"If we call it year-round we're probably talking about going to school in July and early August. I don't think that is something a lot of schools are looking at. It's more about how do we tweak this a little bit more with our current resources."

The goal is to reduce the so-called "summer slide" where students lose the knowledge they built up over the school year during a lengthy summer break.

District administrators said "learning loss" got worse during the pandemic and it impacts poor students more severely than others.

Approximately 67% of the students in Mount Vernon are considered low-income.

There are, however, major issues involving transportation, athletics, summer jobs and the teachers' union to be dealt with.

Mount Vernon Education Association President Cheryl Thramer told KING 5 the proposal would, "Help tackle educator burnout, with fewer leaving the profession as well as the substitute shortage. However, we need to make sure it is right for the Mount Vernon community."

Supt. Vivanco stresses the idea is still only in the discussion phase.

"I would hope that before we say this is a great idea or this is a bad idea that we are open to learn about the idea," he said.

Vivanco said the district is in no hurry to change the school year.

If there is a consensus among parents, teachers and other stakeholders to move forward with the idea, a new calendar likely wouldn't be in place for at least a year.

"We have to look at the realities of our air conditioning systems, our transportation. There are so many different factors, we have to dig a lot deeper before we make a commitment," said Vivanco. "We need to go slow to go far."

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