Front Page History: Boyle was considering year-round school 20 years ago

Published 5:59 pm Monday, April 15, 2019

With spring break behind them, today’s students are looking forward to the end of the school year and summer break in a little more than a month. But 20 years ago, students were wondering if summer break 1999 might be their last.

“The Boyle County School Board authorized its district council to explore alternative calendar proposals for the 1999-2000 school year,” reported The Advocate-Messenger on April 16, 1999. “… Over 2 million students are on an alternative school calendar nationwide, often referred to as year-round school because the traditional long summer break is broken up into shorter breaks throughout the year.”

It was the second time in less than five years that the Boyle Schools considered a year-round schedule, and Danville Schools had also pondered a similar shift in 1996, the newspaper reported.

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“I’m not saying I’m in favor or against (the idea),” said board Chair Eddie Caldwell. “You’re not going to know how you’re going to help your system … until you explore it.”

Caldwell said the only reason to change would be if it could help students’ academic performance. “I think it’s wise to keep revisiting it instead of completely shutting the door,” he said. “If proven it increases academics of students, why, we would have to take a very serious look at it.”

At the time, 130 public schools in 18 districts in Kentucky were on a year-round calendar, including three districts in neighboring Mercer County. Mike Barnard, the Mercer County assistant superintendent at the time, said he couldn’t say yet whether it had affected academic performance, but it had definitely improved student-teacher morale.

“The key to success of the alternative calendar has been communication with parents and the community,” Barnard said at the time. “It’s been a very positive change for us.

Boyle Superintendent Mike Rogers acknowledged that the last time Boyle County considered an alternative calendar, many people were “alarmed” and worried students would miss out on the ability to participate in other summer programs. He reiterated that the district wanted to gather more information about academic benefits before making a decision.

“I think it uses a vehicle to break out of the box and uses an opportunity to increase learning time,” Rogers said. “It doesn’t change the number of hours in a school day or year; it maximizes hours.”

Boyle County never chose to implement an alternative calendar; today Mercer County’s two remaining school districts both operate on normal school calendars that include summer break.

More from the front page

Also making headlines 20 years ago was the installment of John Roush as Centre College’s president.

“John Roush was praised Thursday as ‘straight-laced, well-dressed, intelligent … intense in a comfortable way’ as he formally assumed the leadership of Centre College,” the news report on his installment reads.

E. Bruce Heilman, then the chancellor of the University of Richmond, spoke at the installment and told the crowd of 1,500 in attendance he had known Roush for 16 years.

“Only his mother could be more effusive,” Heilman said. “What you see is what you get.”