Any significant changes in the Bozeman School District school year calendar are bound to be met with stiff resistance from some quarter.

Going to year-round schools or "trimesters," with three months of school followed by a month off, will pose challenges. Parents will need to find daycare at odd times of the year. Teachers will no longer have the three months of summer to further their education.

But as the district's 40-person task force researches the possibilities, it should be driven by one over-arching consideration: What's best for the students?

To be sure, there could be other benefits. Staggering the times when some students are in school and others are out on vacation, the district could conceivably make more efficient use of its buildings and perhaps forestall the need for more space.

That could have financial benefits in a growing city like Bozeman. Building new schools is expensive and making more efficient use of the space available makes sense.

But staggering the times when students are in school could have impacts on sports programs and other extra-curricular activities.

And there will be some who prefer spacing out one-month breaks over the year rather than taking them all in one long summer break.

But the biggest consideration must be the students and how well they are learning. Studies have consistently shown that students lose a lot that has be re-taught when out of school for three months in a row. Students who take shorter breaks spaced out over the calendar year, perform better on standardized tests.

The good news is that the Bozeman schools will not have to reinvent the wheel. Many school districts around the nation have tried different school-year calendar configurations and worked out the kinks. Those districts will be able to provide task force members with a wealth of information about what works and what doesn't work.

Those task force - made up of teachers, parents, school administrators and School Board members - will undoubtedly get an earful on any proposals to change the traditional school calendar most of us grew up with and consider to be sacred.

But they need to keep their eye on the ball, and the ball is what's best for the kids.

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