Year-Round Schooling: How it Affects the Economy

In this series I have been writing about different facets of the year-round schooling debate. First I looked at the effects on students and then moved to the impact on teachers. As I researched both groups, I found no distinct disadvantages to either (and some advantages) when placed on a year-round academic calendar.

Today I want to move away from the individual groups impacted and take a closer look at the overall economic effect of year-round schooling. Does this academic setup help or hurt taxpayers’ pockets?

On-campus costs and savings

Year-round school programs are based on one of two different concepts: single-track, which releases all students for breaks throughout the year together, and multi-track, which staggers student breaks and effectively keeps the school building occupied year round. Obviously on a multi-track schedule, school maintenance costs rise because the building is in full use year-round. The cost does not increase by as much as a quarter, though, because most traditional schedule school buildings do have some employees there in the summer months and most offer summer school classes for some of that time too. Still, in cold-weather climates, the cost of not having to pay for air conditioning alone can be a deal-breaker when the topic of year-round schooling is broached. There is also the added cost of transportation on more days of school, custodial staff and additional administrative staff.

There are some areas where year-round schools can be long-term money saving options, though. If a particular district has more students than traditional schedules can accommodate, the capital cost of new buildings can be avoided with a multi-track schedule that allows more students to use the same building. Beyond the capital cost of a building, money can be saved through a higher amount of students using the same resources, like library books or physical education equipment. Some schools have even listed a decrease in vandalism as a financial plus of year-round occupancy.

Community cost and savings

Each individual community will feel a different economic impact when it comes to year-round schooling. A tourist community with summer attractions, for example, may feel more of a squeeze if its low-cost employee pool of high school students is suddenly in class instead. The same could be said for ski communities though that could benefit from multi-track scheduling of high school students during its busiest seasons. The summer months tend to be when most high school students earn the most money, however, because there is a significant duration of time with no school responsibilities. Without those months of a steady paycheck, students (and parents) stand to lose potential college money. Trying to work and maintain a job alongside classes can have a negative impact on grades according to most research and most employers cannot accommodate students who are only available two or three week spans at a time.

So the potential economic cost of year-round schooling is two-fold: the individual student may suffer financially, and the local businesses may have to pay out more for jobs that are better-suited for high school students who do not have the time off to work them.

Savings to the community are a little less tangible, but can be reflected in some research that says year-round schooling reduces teen crime, thus saving money for the community. At-risk students tend to perform better in year-round setups, making them more successful in their academic career which could feasibly mean a stronger economy down the road if those students avoid dropping out of high school. While the savings associated with year-round school schedules may not show up on something as straightforward as a utility bill, they still exist.

Like the impact on students and teachers, the financial ramifications for year-round schooling do not seem significantly negative. But for cash-strapped districts, any upfront costs can be a deal-breaker.

What other potential costs or savings do you associate with year-round schooling?

0 Replies to “Year-Round Schooling: How it Affects the Economy”

  1. Pingback: Frederick
  2. Year-round schooling is a no-brainer on so many levels. The savings in the summer months that are mentioned could also be saved in those two or three week breaks throughout the year. And I’ve yet to see a school building that totally shuts down in the summer months anyway — so utility costs cannot be that big of a savings.

  3. When I was still teaching, this was always a topic of conversation and the consensus among the teachers I knew was that year-round would be BETTER than summers off. Those months are nice at the time, but time off throughout the year would be a lot more beneficial. As for the economics of it — it seems pretty solid to me. I hope this shift happens nationally in the next decade.

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