GIPS elementary students are getting back to the books

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Updated: Mon, 14 Jul 2014 10:33:14 CST

It may be hard to believe, but it's back to school time for some Grand Island elementary Schools.

This is the fourth year since Grand Island Public Schools' first implemented continuous calendar schooling.

At a time when most classrooms are sitting idle, 4 GIPS elementary schools are back in session.

"I can tell that my kids are much higher than the kids that teach at traditional calendar." Said Jason Weseman, 5th grade teacher at Howard Elementary.

After a 6 week summer break, students at Howard, West Lawn, Jefferson and Starr are hitting the books.

"They seem to not have lost as much, like on the first day it's almost like you can ask those tricky questions and they've got it right there." Said Weseman.

Wednesday marked the first day of Howard Elementary's 4th school year on a continuous calendar, and the third year for the other three schools.

"We think it's been very successful." Said Dr. Robert Winter, Superintendent of Grand Island Public Schools.

With a shorter summer break, a break in September and extended winter and spring breaks, this schedule gives the district a chance to provide additional attention to those who need it most.

"English language learners and those kids that aren't performing maybe where they need to be, at grade level." Said Dr. Winter.

Within weeks, educators will recommend if a student would benefit from intersession programs during breaks.

"It's essentially summer school in September and December. We don't wait a full year, we try to impact those kids immediately." Said Dr. Winter.

While continuous calendar schools are meant to benefit student's learning, I asked some if they're happy to be back in these halls and their answers might surprise you.

"It's fun because you get a break and then you get to come back and then you get another break and then you get to come back." Said Zakyri Geiger, 5th grade student at Howard Elementary.

Classmate Jennifer Castorena says she's glad to be back. "Because sometimes I get bored at my house."

Not every student is sure they're ready to learn. "It's hard to pick,Because we get more breaks when we start early." Said Leslie Ramos.

The number of days class is in session is the same, 173.5 in traditional calendar and continuous calendar schools.

The style of learning is what's different.

"It's very deliberate. It's very targeted." Said Dr. Winter.

Grand Island Superintendent, Dr. Robert Winter says the district will now start looking at student performance and data from parents and teachers over the past few years to assess the effectiveness of the continuous calendar.