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Volume 25, Number 4
July/August 2009

Putting the Brakes on “Summer Slide”

Modified school calendars build in time to enrich learning and sustain gains


Photo: Fairfax County Public Schools

This spring, officials in Fairfax County, Va., like those in localities across the country during these economic hard times, were in a fiscal bind and looking for any way to close a projected $650 million budget shortfall. School officials began looking seriously at slashing one line item: the nearly $3 million the county spends to fund a longer school year, called a modified school calendar, at seven elementary schools.

The vote, in some ways, would have been an easy one. The seven schools had high levels of poverty and high numbers of students who spoke little English. These were not the kind of parents who would organize and protest before the school board, demanding that their program be spared.

Then Diane Connolly showed up at a budget hearing. And in the course of one PowerPoint presentation, she changed everyone’s mind.

This is an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter. Subscribers can click here to continue reading this article.