Balanced Calendar

How Balanced Calendars Help Reduce Learning Gaps

Finley School District is looking to implement a "Balanced Calendar" for the 2024-2025 school year. View the proposed 2024-2025 Finley Balanced Calendar here (printable PDF). After collaborating with teachers and staff across all buildings during the 2023-2024 year, the Finley Teachers Association (Union) worked alongside Finley School District to develop a draft balanced calendar. This proposed 2024-2025 calendar will be presented for review and potential adoption at the May 20, 2024 school board meeting. Any district calendar must be approved by both the Finley Education Association and the School Board of Directors before the calendar is adopted.

This page is intended to provide information on what a balanced calendar is and why the district has been exploring this possibility. If you have additional questions, please attend one of our upcoming community forums.


On May 8 and May 13, 2024, Finley School District hosted community forums to provide information on the balanced calendar proposal. Community members had the opportunity to share their feedback through an online survey from May 8th-20th, 2024. A summary of the survey responses are shown below:

  • Total number of responses: 180
bar chart showing survey participants' roles
  • Survey participants:
    • Parent/guardian of a Finley student = 61.7%
    • Finley school employee = 21.1%
    • Finley school employee AND a parent of a Finley student = 6.1%
    • Finley community member (no children currently enrolled) = 12.8%
  • Question 5: If data shows a balanced calendar is better for student outcomes, would you support a change?
    • Yes = 49.4 %
    • No = 35.6%
    • Undecided = 15%
pie chart showing how participants voted regarding moving forward with Finley's balanced calendar proposal

What is a balanced calendar?

Like a traditional calendar, a balanced calendar has the same number of school days (180). The difference is how the breaks are spread throughout the year. Instead of concentrating 180 school days into nine months, a balanced calendar spreads those 180 days throughout the year. Rather than a calendar dominated by a very long summer break, students would have more periodic, longer breaks throughout the school year and a shorter summer break. Schools may use these breaks to host “intersessions,” where they can provide additional learning experiences if needed. By modifying the traditional calendar and shifting the days through the year, schools can maximize the learning process.

What are intersessions?

An intersession is an additional optional opportunity for students and teachers to continue learning on non-scheduled school days. Intersessions consist of extra-curricular activities along with academic support throughout the school year. Intersessions can run as long as a full week or a couple days of during the scheduled break. Intersessions can include activities such as field trips, homework help, CTE activities, clubs, and more. Intersessions also provide all students who attend with meals at school.

Why is our district considering a balanced calendar?

Since staff first started studying balanced calendars in 2021, the goal has remained the same:  to close learning gaps and reduce the "summer slide." Balanced, or modified, calendars offer a innovative approach to scheduling that provides students with more frequent breaks throughout the year, reducing summer learning loss, and offering additional opportunities for enrichment and intervention.

How long has the District been considering a balanced calendar option?

Like multiple school districts in Washington State, Finley School District received a grant from OSPI during the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 schools years to explore the possibility of using a balanced calendar. A smaller workgroup of approximately 7 school teachers and administrators has studied balanced calendars in-depth for the past three school years. Below is a timeline to highlight key milestones along the way in this exploration.

Advantages to Balanced Calendars:

  • Less review time needed, so more time for new learning
  • Less staff and student burnout
  • More vacation options
  • Fewer absences
  • More engaged students with better lesson retention
  • Extra help when needed during the school year, during the breaks, or intercessions

Finley's Balanced Calendar Exploration Timeline:

  • 2021-2022:
    • August 2021 - Former Superintendent Lance Hahn first introduced Finley school staff to the idea of exploring the possibility of a balanced calendar in Finley.
    • February-March 2022 - Small group online book study through ESD 123
  • 2022-2023:
    • Staff were invited to participate in multiple book studies throughout the 2022-23 school year on the book Summer Vs. School.
    • October 12-13, 2022 - The Finley Balanced Calendar a workgroup of 3 Finley school employees attended a conference in Yakima to learn more about school districts across Washington State (and the country) who were researching balanced calendars for their districts.
    • October 21, 2022 - Finley staff attended a professional development (in-service day) presentation on the balanced calendar initiative. In conjunction with the October PD day, a survey was disseminated and 76 employees completed the survey. The purpose of the survey was to identify the greatest advantages and concerns staff saw in the balanced calendar model for Finley.
    • March 28, 2023 - Staff meeting in the RVHS lecture hall to further discuss  balanced calendar possibilities.
  • 2023-2024:
    • April 2024 - Finley teachers voted on a balanced calendar option for the 2024-2025 year.

Why is the Finley community just now learning about the possibility of a balanced calendar in April 2024?

Before bringing any proposed changes to our community, we need to be sure that our school staff are on board and in support. Finley's Balanced Calendar workgroup has been intentional about following a specific process to work with both the teacher association and the classified union in discussing options and working through any concerns preemptively. In April 2024, the workgroup concluded that process and approved a 2024-2025 calendar to be adopted by the Finley School Board.

Who makes the decision on the school district calendar?

It is the responsibility of the Finley School Board to approve the adoption of the Finley School District calendar each year. In addition to the board approval, the adopted calendar is a process outlined in the collective bargaining agreement with the District and the Finley Education Association.

Finley School Board Policy 2220 states:

In order to permit staff, students and parents to make plans for their own work and vacation schedules, the Board will adopt a school calendar by June 1 of each year. Staff, students, parents and patrons will be advised of the school calendar(s).

If Finley adopts a 2024-2025 balanced calendar, would all Finley schools follow this schedule?

Yes. Any calendar adopted by the school board would apply to Finley students in all grades and all schools.

Would a balanced calendar impact middle and high school sports schedules?

If Finley adopts a balanced calendar, middle and high school sports schedules would remain the same. Students may be on break during a sports season, much like during winter and spring break schedules on a traditional calendar.

How would a balanced calendar be funded?

The school district typically receives state (LAP) and federal (Title) grant dollars to provide summer school programs (intersession support during the summer). Contingent upon funding, the district plans to allocate these summer school dollars across the intercession periods (or breaks) scheduled throughout the school year.

How will students be able to attend Tri-Tech if Finley is not in session at the same time?

Each school district has a slightly different calendar and collaborates with Tri-Tech to ensure students can attend both their home school and Tri-Tech. The Finley transportation department has developed a plan for covering student transportation to and from Tri-Tech during the proposed intercession weeks in October and February. Even if Finley is on a break, the district would still provide transportation for the student to get between RVHS and Tri-Tech.

How would a balanced calendar impact summer employment for staff and students?

The proposed calendar begins the same Tuesday before Labor Day as in a traditional school model. The school year would end on June 18th, which is 1 week of potential loss of availability to work.