The Mansfield school board for the first time has approved calendars two years out, mainly to allow longer-range scheduling of activities at the new performing arts center.Officials said the 2013-14 and 2014-15 calendars, adopted last week by the school board, will help with scheduling district needs around concerts and other non-district events at the 5,500-seat center, which opened last summer, and allow families to start planning vacations a little earlier."We have so many people from outside the district wanting to use the performing arts center," said board president Beth Light.With a longer outlook, she added, "we can verify our needs."The Districtwide Educational Improvement Committee drafted two sets of calendars, Options A and B, which were put to an online survey of students, staff, parents and other residents.The main difference was that Option B includes four split days in which students go home early and teachers remain for staff development.Of the more than 2,900 respondents to the anonymous survey, almost 64 percent preferred Option B.The four split days occur in November, January, February and April in each calendar.Also at the meeting, the staff reported steady progress on the massive integration of iPad tablet computers and higher-tech teaching strategies in the high schools that began this school year.Michael Fore, a Summit pre-calculus teacher who was among several teachers specially trained by Apple, said he has been using an Apple program called iTunes U that helps teachers create their own courses -- comprised of text, photos, imbedded video, online research and other support -- tailored specifically for each of their classes.He said more and more teachers are adopting the "flipped classroom" model in which students view their teacher's recorded lectures, instructions and supporting information on their iPads while at home. During class, they work on their assignments and the teacher has more time to help students individually."I'm able to talk to the kids more one on one," said Fore, who also teaches advanced quantitative reasoning. "I'm getting to know the kids more and build relationships with them. Overall, I think the kids are really doing better with this than the standard (instruction)."While several other teachers are setting up their own courses, his is the only one so far that is accessible to the general public, Fore said in a later interview.Anyone can view his online lesson plans and materials."Apple wanted to make it where anybody in the world can learn about these classes," said Fore, who is in his 15th year as a teacher.Fore said an online survey he conducted in December of Summit's pre-calculus students showed overwhelming satisfaction with the new learning model.More than 90 percent indicated they like having class time to do their work, having the more available to help in the classroom, and being able to rewatch the recorded lessons -- or "pause and rewind the teacher" -- when needed."They can watch it over and over, as much as they need to make sure they know what's going on," he said. "Also, it keeps them from being embarrassed."As for the teacher, he's happy in the new learning environment."I'm not spending nearly as much time in front of the class lecturing," he said. "All I do every day now is help the kids."