Students of Buffalo Ridge Elementary will begin the new school year together. The decision to switch from the four track year-round school calendar was made last spring. Now instead of some students returning to the classroom following the July 4th holiday and others a few weeks later, all students will step through the school’s doors to begin classes consecutively.
The four track year-round calendar was adopted in Douglas County to accommodate the rapid growth. Two main factors played into the decision to switch the calendar at Buffalo Ridge. The biggest impact came with moving the sixth graders to Rocky Heights Middle School and turning Buffalo Ridge into a K-5 school rather than the K-6 school it had been since opening its doors. The second factor was American Academy, a new charter school starting classes in August. With these two catalysts, the enrollment at Buffalo Ridge dropped from 630 students down to 500 allowing the school to change its calendar.
There will be some adjustments as the year progresses. The student population may be smaller, but more people will be in the school at one time than in previous years. Students will not have as many breaks as with the four track year-round calendar. Teachers will have to take into consideration motivation waning without the shorter more frequent breaks. On the other hand the new calendar will allow a longer specials period as well opportunities for more teaming within the grades.
Additionally, families with children in different schools sometimes had up to three different school calendars to juggle. Switching to one traditional calendar throughout the Rock Canyon High School feeder district eliminates these concerns. Parents will no longer have to try to plan family vacations around multiple school schedules.
Although the year-round track program does offer a more efficient use of school space and tax payer’s money there were concerns with this schedule at Buffalo Ridge. Classroom diversity was always an issue. Classroom assignments at Buffalo Ridge can now take into consideration gender, academic ability, special needs and behavior. The track system prohibited this balance.