Hybrid calendar going into effect for 2021-22

The Marion School District will move forward with its innovative “hybrid” school calendar for the 2021-22 school year, following approval of the plan last week by the district’s board of directors.

The district originally planned to implement the hybrid calendar for the 2020-21 school year. However, that plan was postponed following state mandates in the wake of the Covid-19 response.

By shifting to the hybrid calendar, the district will spread out the school year, trimming time from students’ summer vacation and adding two-week rejuvenation breaks after each nine weeks. Students will still have a seven-week break, but they will also get two-week breaks in the fall, winter, and spring. The number of days of instruction will remain unchanged at 178.

The idea behind the hybrid calendar is to ease what educators call the “summer slide.” According to research, students often lose up to 40 percent of what they have learned during the previous year during extended summer breaks. That number can be reduced as much as 22 percent when students are not exposed to a long summer vacation.

The breaks after each nine weeks provide students the opportunity to absorb what they have learned and to take time to rest and renew. For teachers, it’s a chance to evaluate their students’ greatest needs for the next nine weeks. With hybrid school calendars, discipline issues tend to decline, graduation rates rise, and greater academic growth is experienced.

“We could continue to use the same calendar we have always used, but in today’s society we have to be willing to think outside the norms to help our students of today be prepared for the world of tomorrow,” said Marion Superintendent Glen Fenter. “The calendar most schools use today was originally designed to have kids out in the summer to work on farms. That’s outdated.

“We aren’t going year-round, and students will still have a seven-week summer to enjoy,” he continued. “With this change, we will simply spread the year out, allowing our students and teachers to have intermittent breaks without actually adding any additional days to the calendar.”

The hybrid calendar is being implemented in accordance with Arkansas code 6-10-108. Marion is believed to be the only district in east Arkansas to adopt a hybrid calendar, but similar calendars have been used with success at schools in Colorado, Georgia, Texas, Florida, California, and several others.

Under the hybrid calendar, the first day of school for Marion students will be Monday, July 26. Other key dates for students are as follows:

  • Fall Break: September 27-October 10
  • Thanksgiving Holiday: November 22-26
  • Winter Break: December 20-January 3
  • Spring Break: March 11-27

The district will also continue to observe holidays for Labor Day, the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, Presidents Day, Good Friday, and Memorial Day.

Last year, when originally proposing the hybrid calendar to families and staff, the district conducted extensive surveys. The response was overwhelmingly positive.

“Our students deserve quality schools; they deserve innovative schools,” Fenter said. “They deserve to have schools that will do whatever it takes to improve educational outcomes. That’s what we are committed to doing. It’s something we’ve tried to do from the creation of our magnet schools to the facility improvements we are making district-wide. If there’s something we can do to improve the education our students get, we want to do it.”

With a growing enrollment of nearly 3,900 students, the Marion School District is committed to helping students develop the academic, social, and decision-making skills needed to become productive citizens in the rapidly changing technological world. For enrollment information, including information on school choice, visit https://www.msd3.org/ or call 870-739-5100.