The Single-Track vs. Multi-Track Debate

I've lived in the area for a long time. Not quite as long as a few, but far longer than most of the people in the area. And far longer...

I've lived in the area for a long time. Not quite as long as a few, but far longer than most of the people in the area. And far longer than I've had school-age children. And since I have child one that won't even start school until the 2009-2010 school year, and I have no intention of moving from the area, I'm going to have children attending school in Menifee for many years to come.

Admittedly I don't recall if Menifee schools were ever on a single track system or if they have been on a multi-track system since I moved to the area. However, I can vividly recall the displeasure with a multi-track system that most parents I encountered shared. I have my opinion on a single vs. multi track system that I have voiced in both public and private forums and I'll voice it here again – I prefer a single track system, but not if it means moving my children to a different school. There are both positives and negatives to a single track system, but I believe the positives far outweigh the negatives.

As recently as a year and a half ago, when my oldest child was starting Kindergarten, public opinion still seemed to favor a single track system. I heard displeasure from parents because their child didn’t get assigned to the track they wanted. I heard displeasure from teachers about students’ information retention. And I heard a lot of comments in favor of a traditional school year. I find it hard to believe public opinion has changed that much in 18 months.

I think most of the opinions against a single track system are a direct result of two things – the debate about Measure “B” and the proposals to change school boundaries. Both of these, while not related directly to each other, directly impact the move to a single track system. The sad thing is, whether a person votes for or against Measure “B” should have nothing to do with whether the boundaries are going to be realigned. And a person’s feelings in favor of or against a single track system should not have anything to do with whether they vote for or against Measure “B”. The simple fact of the matter is, the district should have gone through the effort to find out what parents wanted (single or multi track) before coming up with proposals to realign the school boundaries. And they should have had done both of these before they put Measure “B” on the ballot.

Mr. Twyman has taken responsibility for the district’s desire to move to a single track system. As a fellow parent with a child in Menifee Schools, I think it’s unfair to ask him to take that responsibility on himself. Parents in the community are the ones that gave him the impression a single track system was desired. For those of us that were in the area when he ran for a position on the school board in 2004, he made it very clear he was in support of a single track system. Somehow, I don’t think he would have been elected if community opinion was dead-set against it.

So I’m asking all Menifee 24/7 readers – if Measure “B” and the boundary realignment proposals were taken out of the equation, would you be for or against the traditional single track system?


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  1. I am all for a single track school year. Multi tracks make it very difficult for families with multiple school age children who move into the community because there are often times they are not able to get all of their children on the same tracks. Then they have to manage several different schedules in their one family. This can even happen to families already here if a situation requires moving children to different classes or tracks due to classroom overcrowding. I've seen it happen and it completely disrupts the schedule the families have created. If we move to single track, everyone will be on the same schedule and it will make life much easier. Parents will not be unhappy when they register their children due to being told their children will be on different schedules because there is no room on the track they desire.

  2. I am am for the Multi-Track system. I have two children that attend Ridgemoor, one in 2nd grade and one in Kindergarten and both have done very well in the Multi-Track system. Three months on and one month off seems to work well for our family. I have spoken to several teachers and they themselves have said that most of the children begin to get restless and lose interest in learning right around that three month mark. So for us anything that will keep my children interested in learning is a plus.

  3. I am all for a single track school year too. I agree with the FIRST comment, it is difficult when you have one child on one track & later on you want your second, third child on that same track as the first one & they told you "NO that track is full, wait on the waiting list". I've had it happen to me. Plus I don't like the idea of my kids going in the summer when its 100 plus degrees & they can't go out to play or concentrate on their school work. I rather take them somewhere cool & have fun with them. I also don't like the fact that they start in July & then they're off in August, everything they learned in July is out the door. I too have talked to teachers & some have told me they prefer single track. We all grew up in single track why can't our children do the same. So if we ever get that survey that the school district plans on sending, I'm telling them that YES I want single track!!

  4. I am so for the single track system and so are my neighbors and friends who live in the area. We have many people that have moved here from other city's and are not used to multi track system. Unfortunately, we will have to bite the bullet in order to get up to speed with the rest of southern California.

  5. Just a comment to the person who posted that a teacher said kids get restless around the 3 month mark. I think this is partially due to the fact that they know they are getting ready to go off track and have "short timers" syndrome. If they weren't about to be going off track, I wonder if they would be as restless.

  6. I prefer Single track system. My one kid is going to High School and in Single track system and the other one in multi track. It is hard to manage vacation and other plans if two kids are in different tracks.

  7. Life is geared for single track! Try to schedule a vacation based on multi track. Try to get your kids in summer camp without the hassle of homework. I'm all for single track.

  8. Before moving to Menifee, all I and my children new was traditional school. We love all year round. Both kids were on one track. My oldest is autistico move him to b track in the middle of the year and not change my youngest. Dealing with an older sibling with autism is tramatizing anough then most of us would want to deal with. I now have two children on different tracks. Would we like to go back to tradition?, no way! Trying to keep a specail needs child busy for a consecutive three months is exhausting! Having one track would relieve so much stress.

  9. One benefit that I see from going to a single track is the high school is currently on single track. Having a child in K-8 and having a child in high school can cause a number of difficulties. Another benefit is to allow all siblings on the same schedule.

    Many people have argued that when a child goes to school for three months and then has one month off they forget everything they have learned. What does that child forget when they are away from school for three months? Do they not need to retain information from grade to grade? I was under the impression that 3rd grade built on what you learned in 2nd grade, etc…

    I am in favor of single track, with everything else constant.

  10. I no longer have school-aged children, but I have grandchildren in the Menifee district and can see the postives far outweighing the negatives on the subject of multi-track vs. a single-track or traditional school year. On the positive side--continuity in the classroom leading to a higher retention of subject matter, less burnout for teachers dealing constantly with having to reteach students everything they'd just learned a month before, less time spent in classrooms during triple-digit summertime heat, less money spent on utilities for air-conditioning and lights during summer months, lower fuel bills spent on buses, more family-friendly schedules with the elementary and middle schools being aligned with the high school district schedule...I could go on, but you get the picture. On the negative side, there are some people who like the multi-track system and what it affords in terms of scheduling vacations and other family time, and those people would obviously be inconvenienced. Money, or the lack of it, is the looming problem attached to other negatives. More schools need to be built and more teachers hired (with 25% of the student population on vacation all the time, for years Menifee has managed to offer an illusion that we have enough schools for the growing population). Realigning boundaries and shuffling students from school to school is only a stop-gap solution, at best. We're all going to have to bite the bullet, financially, if we're going to find real solutions to the problem. Gayle Reed

  11. I am a parent who has had the best of both worlds. My kids originally come from traditional (single track) school. When we moved out here a few years ago I was very upset about putting my kids in Year round, but let me tell you it is the best thing that has ever happened. I love it, they love it and the kids get a break every 3 months. So as you can see I am all for multi track schooling.

  12. I am a mother of two daughters and one step-son.My daughters attend Freedom Crest(multi-track), my step-son attends Canyon Lake Middle(single track). When we moved to this area we were worried about multi-track because we had always been in single track.It has been great for us.Our school was initially unable to accomodate both girls on the same track.That was short lived and within a very short time placed us on the same track.It is really nice to take vacation in the spring, summer and fall. Perhaps some of these parents who are so concerned with keeping their children on single track should spend their time and energy helping in their childs class, volunteering at the school or PTA program.The school board and the district has to make choices based on what is happening right now, with very little knowledge as to what may come in the future.Our children are getting a good education which is free to us.At least one of our districts schools has just been given a "California Distinguished School Award" that is a huge accomplishment, and by the way that was done in a school that is mutli-track.Give me a break Menifee parents don't you think we have bigger fish to fry?

  13. To the person who commented above, I do volunteer at my childrens's school but I still would like it to go to single track. Try telling my kids why they can't go to summer programs (the ones they want are always in the morning or noonish when they are at school) or to her relative's house (cousins are on single track in North County). Personally single track will definitely will work in our family!

  14. There seems to be some confusion about the definition of single-track. Single track simply means that all students are on the same track not that they are necessarily on a traditional track. I too see the advantages to the 3 months on 1 month off system. Multi track does not mean 3 on 1 off it means that there are 4 schools running on the same school site. I don't know of any school that does it but a multi-track school could be 9 months on 3 months off with each track getting a different 3 months off. That would be strange but it would be a multitrack system. As a teachers at the high school I support a longer winter and spring break than we currently have. If the Menifee District eventually goes to single track it should be a modified version of track A or B so that it most closely aligns to the high school. After unification the high school and other schools can share the same schedule. The person who pointed out the cost savings hit it on the head. We currently run our busses everyday. Our principals, custodians and office staff all work year round. There is little time to deep clean classrooms. The energy cost of year round operation is costly. In the end its not an all or nothing decision. As for the boundary issue neither of the proposals have to be chosen, However if the district staff didn't come forward with the proposal and the counts of students in the possible effected areas then the board would have no information to make a decision. All the same information the board gets was presented to the community and after collecting statements from all interested people the board will come to a decision. I am sure it will be in the best interest of all. No hasty decision will be made. And the cool thing about it all is, if they don't make the correct decision, then you too can run for the school board and fix the mistake. Isn't our democracy great.

  15. I see how a multi track system can be more costly to run than a single track system from the examples in Fred’s comment. On the other hand the cost of the additional schools and staff to accommodate a single track system can also be costly.

    It would be interesting to see the yearly cost difference between a single and multi track system to determine what is more cost effective. How many years does it take on a single track system, the less expensive system, to be able to pay for the additional schools needed?

  16. There two kinds of funding districts get from the state. The money per student called the base revenue limit that can only be used for educational services. The other is capital facilities funds that can only be used for buildings and capital goods (furniture etc.) In years past the state had little or no money for buildings and gave districts extra funding for going to a multitrack system. However after the passage of some state wide bonds the state had more money for buildings and stopped giving out funding for multitrack. Now the state will match any local bond funds to help districts build schools. So we no longer get the money we use to get when we first went on multitrack and we will get additional funds to build schools. The number of teachers are the same in either system since the number of students determines the need. However the support services to run a school year round are greater than they are on single track. So basically the savings we see can be used to improve the educational program. More technology, art programs, smaller classrooms, after school tutoring programs, better teacher salaries (to lure better teacher here or great ones to stay). Once again it comes down to what we want for our kids and the quality of their education vs the all mighty dollar. Many people say "I don't have kids so why should I have to pay an additional cent." I hope that in Menifee they are in the minority. We shall see.

  17. teacher in the districtJanuary 24, 2008 9:28 PM

    multi-track is definately less expensive than single-track. we could pay for a lot of electricity during the summer months for what it would cost to build a new school! plus, if the number of students in our district drops, we don't have empty schools.

    multi-track also helps with retention. read the research. it's better for student's retention to have 3 months on, 1 month off, than a 3 month summer vacation. summer vacation was intended for students to help their families bring in the harvest. there aren't enough farming families with students who have to work in the fields for us to continue operating on a 3 month summer vacation just because that's what we did when we were in school.

  18. all for single track. kids of different ages in elementary and jr high and high school make it challeneging and ruin family time spent because of different tracks. also, its so hot in the summer itd be better if 3 months of it were off. and my daughters best friend is on a different track than her and that is also frustrating. All for single track !!!

  19. I'm going to address a couple of comments in this post. And as a head's up - it's really long. Believe it or not, I’ve actually been trying to post comments related to other comments for the last couple of days. I don’t generally have a lot of time to sit in front of the computer to type out a comment in response to somebody else’s comment. As a result, the last couple of days, every time I have gotten ready to post a comment, I have discovered a new comment or comments that I wanted to respond to. Rather than keep posting, I decided to keep a running document so I can post all of my comments at the same time.

    This post is basically divided into two parts. In the first part, I am responding to comments from Fred and several others from the last couple of days. In the second part, I am specifically responding to the comments posted by the "Anonymous" poster from January 23rd at 4:48 PM.

    Part 1:

    I will take responsibility for adding to some of the confusion regarding the definition of a single-track system in this specific forum. During the public hearing I attended regarding the proposed boundary changes, the terms "single-track" and "modified traditional" were used interchangeably. Both of these terms are also used in the proposed boundary presentation on the district's web site.

    Fred did a great job of explaining the term single-track and hopefully it cleared up not only my confusion, but any other confusion there may have been. Because of the use of the term “modified-traditional” along with the term “single-track”, I automatically figured the district was looking to move to a system similar to the “modified-traditional” system Perris has in all but one of their elementary schools. I hadn’t given any thought to the possibility of moving all the students to one of the existing tracks or to a modified version of one of the existing tracks. I hope I have interpreted Fred’s explanation correctly, but as I understand it, the district doesn’t necessarily want to move back to a full, traditional, 9 on/3 off system, and they don’t necessarily want to stay on a single, 3 on/1 off year-round track either. They appear to be looking at more of an acceptable compromise between a traditional system and a year-round system.

    And for the record, I'm not trying to spark additional debate over single vs. multi-track or traditional vs. modified-traditional. But when you stop to think about it, even in a traditional, (and to avoid further confusion, my definition of a “traditional” is early September through mid June) school year, kids typically aren't in school without a break for much longer than they are in our current multi-track, year round system. The breaks are consistent and they are all roughly the same length in our current system, rather than having a long summer break. But if you compare a traditional school year to our system, (and if you do a little research, you can find calendars from districts on a traditional year), you’ll see that the amount of time in school without a break is almost the same.

    The argument that we can buy a lot of electricity with the money spent to build new schools doesn’t hold a lot of water for me. (It holds some. I’ll give it credit for being a valid argument. But it doesn’t hold a lot.) But any way you look at it, Menifee is going to need more schools eventually. Do some research on the current estimated population of the area. I’ve seen statistics ranging from 60,000 to 80,000. And we are expected to surpass 250,000 within the next five years and 500,000 within the next ten years. Obviously, there are going to be children included in that population increase and there is going to be a need for additional schools – no matter what type of system we are on. I have no idea how much electricity is used by the schools and therefore I have no idea how much it the district’s electric bills are. But I’m sure the district and the school board have taken this into consideration and must be of the opinion that it will be more cost effective to transition away from a year-round system.

    As far as doing reading research about the educational benefits of year round, I’ve done it. Surprisingly, (or maybe not so surprisingly), I was able find articles that for and against both sides of the issue with “facts” obtained during various “studies”. I don’t give the information from any of those studies a lot of credit either (for either side of the debate). Just like political polls (which are very rarely conducted by non-partisan parties), studies that are conducted based upon theory can be skewed to support any side of an argument. The results of the study generally depend on the point of view of the individual or group that initiated the study and the outcome they wanted to see, (not to mention the geographic location where the study is being conducted).

    So if both of the arguments above are 100% valid, then why have I seen so many districts that went from traditional to year round go back to traditional?

    Part 2:

    Again, this part is mostly directed toward the Anonymous poster (the mother with two daughters and one stepson), as mentioned at the beginning of this comment. I sincerely don’t mean this as a personal attack against her, although I’m afraid it probably sounds that way. As you will see, I have broken that particular comment up into smaller sections and have responded to each section.

    “Perhaps some of these parents who are so concerned with keeping their children on single track should spend their time and energy helping in their child’s class, volunteering at the school or PTA program.”

    Do you volunteer? If you do, then I commend you. I think it’s a sad thing when, because of decisions by our government, there is a need for parent volunteers, but that’s a completely different topic and should be discussed elsewhere. But the way your comment is worded, it: A) - sounds like you don’t think our concern is a worthwhile cause; and B) – you don’t think any of us volunteer. You may not think our concerns and views are a worthwhile cause. That’s your right. We may not agree with your views, and that’s our right. But don’t make a blanket statement that saying perhaps we should spend our time and energy volunteering, etc., etc. I happen to know a lot of these parents that are “so concerned with keeping their child on a single track” DO spend time and energy volunteering in classrooms or with the PTA. (By the way, our