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LA CROSSE, Wis., (February 9, 2023) – At the end of the 2022-2023 school year, the year-round school calendar at Hamilton Elementary will end and the school will return to a traditional calendar. The year-round model at Hamilton was started in 2013 and was recently reviewed by a task force which found that change is needed to either address the identified challenges or explore other options. With 68% of students in the neighborhood opting out of their boundary school, the program is no longer meeting the needs of those it was intended to serve.

“I am thankful for all the efforts the incredible staff at Hamilton Elementary have put in over the years to provide a high-quality education to students in the year-round model,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Aaron Engel. “This will be a significant change for students and staff alike and we will provide ongoing support in making this transition.”

Initiation of the Year-Round Calendar at Hamilton

Planning for the year-round school calendar was initiated in 2009 with an update provided to the School Board in December 2011. In October 2012, the Board approved a year-round model for Hamilton Elementary beginning in July 2013. 

Task Force Review Summary

In September of 2022, a task force was created to review the impact of the year-round school calendar on students at Hamilton Elementary. This task force analyzed effectiveness from various perspectives and shared findings and recommendations after its work was complete.

A review of the literature on year-round school calendar configurations shows the impacts on academic achievement are inconclusive. A review of the program at Hamilton Elementary finds the same results for academics with additional concerns regarding attendance and instructional fidelity in the months of July and August, staffing during intercessions, and management of two calendars in one building. As positives, the year-round school calendar shortens potential breaks for students, can increase the amount of schooling for students, and provides more frequent breaks for staff. 

“Our biggest concern regarding the continuation of the year-round school calendar is the opt-out rate of students. In the 2022-2023 school year, 68% of students from the Hamilton Elementary boundary opted out of Hamilton, choosing instead to attend a different school,” said Dr. Engel. “The year-round model was established at Hamilton Elementary specifically to address the disadvantages associated with poverty which occurs at a higher rate in the Hamilton neighborhood. Despite this intention, 68% of families in this neighborhood have indicated through intradistrict transfers that the year-round model does not meet their needs.”

Next Steps

This summer a four-week traditional summer school will be offered at Hamilton Elementary and the district’s partnership with the Boys and Girls Club will continue to provide ongoing daily supervision of students in the Hamilton Neighborhood. Instead of one six-week summer break, students will have two four-week breaks from school if they attend summer school and have access to complimentary breakfast and lunch all summer. 

This task force did not review the year-round model at Northside Elementary as it has only been in place for three years. Families who desire to continue in the year-round model will be able to request an intradistrict transfer to Northside Elementary. 

Research indicates that “more school” is what impacts student achievement, not “different school.” Over the next year, the district will be exploring what “more school” could look like at Hamilton Elementary while addressing the unique needs of families and staff.