Board reviews plan for year-round school

October 07, 1997


Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - After a yearlong study, a Berkeley County Board of Education task force has recommended a pilot program for year-round school.

The report of the 40-member Year-Round Education Task Force was reviewed by the board Monday. It recommends a voluntary, three-year pilot program at a school beginning in 1998-99. Students would go to school 45 days and take 15 off continuously throughout the year.

Co-chairperson John Alderton said one advantage is students would not have the three-month summer vacation to forget much of what they learned during the traditional school year.


"The teachers insist learning is essentially over by Memorial Day," board president Bill Sonnik said after the presentation. Teachers spend weeks in the fall reteaching students, he added.

"If we do this, it will almost certainly be an elementary program," said Sonnik, who served on the task force.

Co-chairperson Joyce Chapman, principal at Winchester Avenue Elementary School, said research on year-round education showed it can increase attendance and lower dropout rates while reducing boredom and burnout in students and teachers.

Alderton said the intersession periods "could be the vehicle to attain the goal of improving academic performance." Students falling behind could attend remedial sessions during the intersessions, while others could use it for academic enrichment.

The plan calls for selecting a pilot school and a partner school operating on a regular school year. Parents not wanting their children in year-round school could send them to the partner school. Staff would also have the option of whether or not to participate in the program.

Among the disadvantages cited were the disruption of family habits and lifestyles and teachers being unable to attend daytime college summer school sessions. The task force studied other forms of year-round school, but rejected them for various reasons.

The task force included parents, teachers, board members and other members of the community. Alderton said none of the members flatly opposed the proposal.

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