Hamilton Early Learning Center in La Crosse switched to a 45-15 year-round school calendar in 2013. This Tuesday marks the first day back to school following summer break.
The idea for a year-round school calendar started at Steve Michaels' very first staff meeting as principal of Hamilton Early Learning Center.
"A number of teachers wrote 'We need to do something different. We need to consider our school year, because our kids come back to us, and it's like brand new all over again,'" Michaels said.
Michaels worked with parents, staff, and district members to adopt a 45-15 school year calendar. This schedule includes nine weeks of school split up with three week breaks.
"It's been a great journey for me, for our staff, for our kids, for our neighbors, for our parents," Michaels said.
This marks the fifth school year with the 45-15 scheduling. Michaels said the biggest benefit of a year-round calendar is consistency.
"The kids like to predict what's going to happen and to know what is coming up next," he said. "For some of our students, summer can be a big question mark. What's going to happen in these three months?"
Summer for the students is not completely eliminated.
"We still get six weeks off in the summer, so it's a good summer break," said Jourdan Stacey, a fourth and fifth grade teacher at Hamilton Early Learning Center.
Stacey said that the 45-15 school calendar influenced her decision when she was looking for jobs.
"Year-round school was a positive thing when I looked for jobs here at Hamilton," she said.
Stacey believes the schedule helps her students to retain more information for longer.
"The kids don't lose as much of their learning from the prior year," she said. "We get to just hop right back into where we left off."
Staff at Hamilton Early Learning Center have adjusted to the 45-15 school calendar. Michaels said he never plans to look back.
"I couldn't imagine our school doing anything but the year-round program," he said.
Michaels has traveled to 53 other schools in the area interested in the year-round calendar scheduling. He said the most important thing to do when transitioning is taking the time to plan. He said no two schools will adjust the same.
An elementary school in the Tomah School District is the most recent school to make the switch. Those students will also start their school year this week.