Brett Bunch asked the Magazine school board to commit to three years of his so-called hybrid school calendar. During its January meeting the board asked the superintendent if he would like a three-year contract to match that commitment.

“They suggested it,” said Bunch. “I was good with a two-year agreement but they said ‘if we’re going to commit to the hybrid schedule for three years we want you here to see it through.’”

Bunch, who is currently in his third year with the district, has been on a two-year contract since his arrival.

The hybrid calender is generating a lot of interest. Bunch said last week he has been contacted by representatives of 19 school districts who asked for “data as it becomes available.”

Those schools, Bunch said, are all across Arkansas along with one from Texas.

“I asked how they heard about it, and they said they read about it online,” said Bunch.

After the approval of the change to the calendar during the December meeting of the board, a link to the Democrat’s article about the change was viewed more than 14,000 times.

“We knew we would be under a microscope,” said Bunch. “I was told it is a hot topic at the Department of Ed and that’s okay. We’re not afraid to take a chance because it is what is best for our kids because we want them to give them equal if not better opportunities than students anywhere.”

The change to the calendar shortens the summer break to seven weeks by adding additional time off throughout the year — there is no change to the number of student attendance days.

Doing so is expected, Bunch said again last week, to lower the so-called “summer slide” of lost learning, decrease absenteeism, decrease discipline and increase academic performance.