Piedmont parents were also of the same mindset, Knighton said, expressing concerns about having children in other schools without a year-round calendar, or their child's ability to participate in summer activities like Bible school, team sports and camp.
"You know there were all kinds of consternations, all kinds of issues that these parents had that were legitimate," Knighton said. "Well, some became even irate and said it was undermining family values and that it was a communistic plot."
The first year Knighton started year-round school, parents could choose to participate. He says only half the children took part. The second year 80 percent of the parents agreed to the alternate schedule. The third year, Piedmont officially adopted a year-round calendar for all students.
Piedmont starts school in July. Sessions run nine weeks with three-week breaks in between; students have about five to six weeks off in the summer. It's a schedule that Knighton says makes more sense.
"It's crazy -- we're the only country in the world that has a calendar that looks like this, and our public school year -- 180 days -- is dead last," Knighton said. "Western Europe, 210; China, 240; Japan, 230 -- nobody goes as few days as public education as the United States, which just boggles my mind."
Kathy Thomas, Piedmont resource room teacher, sees a big difference in student performance as a result of the balanced calendar.
"I think that the biggest difference is the continuous learning on the part of the year-round calendar," Thomas said. "Our kids have less time to lose the skills that they've learned, so I feel we're teaching without any interruption."
Fifth-grade teacher Kim Landers said the calendar is better from a personal perspective as well.
"I've kind of built my life now around the year-round calendar, and I don't know if I could go back to the traditional calendar. I really don't," Landers said. "My husband and I enjoy those three-week breaks and we get to travel and do things, and it's perfect for me."
Knighton is advising the committee that's exploring the balanced calendar.
Jordan said that in the next few months the department will reach out to educators across the state who are interested with a goal of encouraging more counties to adopt an alternate calendar.