Panel to recommend year-round classes for two schools

May 08, 2002|BY TARA REILLY

A group appointed by Washington County Interim Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan to boost student achievement will recommend year-round schooling be held at Bester and Winter Street elementary schools, one of the group's members said Tuesday morning.

Another group tentatively plans to recommend setting up a Washington County School for the Arts, possibly in downtown Hagerstown, Carol Mowen, the School Board's public information officer said.

The recommendations come from the Washington County Study Groups for Specialized Programs and Models. There are six groups.

Group member Cece Culp told the School Board Tuesday that year-round school at Bester and Winter Street, schools with high mobility rates and high free and reduced lunch percentages, would improve educational opportunities for students.


Mobility rates are determined by the number of students who leave and enroll in a school throughout the year.

School officials have said schools with high mobility rates and a high number of students in poverty have lower test scores than those without such populations.

"Their test scores go up with a year-long program," Culp said in a phone interview. "I have not seen one article that disputes that in any way."

Throughout the school year, students would attend school for nine-week periods, with three weeks off between each school period, rather than having entire summers off.

She said the preliminary cost of putting a program in place at each school is estimated at $112,000.

Principals at Winter Street and Bester said they think year-round programs at their schools are a good idea.

"That would be wonderful," Winter Street Principal Ellen R. Hayes said. "If properly done, it would have a great benefit for many of my children."

"Everything about it would serve our children well," Bester Principal Drenna L. Reineck said.

Hayes and Reineck said many of the students at their schools lose much of the knowledge they gained during the school year because they don't receive reinforcement from home over the summer.

"We spend so much time reteaching just to get them where they were when they left us in June," Hayes said.

Hayes said it's not uncommon to spend the first five weeks of school going over what was taught the previous school year.

Reineck said her teachers may spend about four weeks reteaching material.

Claude Sasse, president of the Washington County Teachers Association, said he supports year-round schooling because of the potential educational benefits and the benefits to teachers.

"Teachers would have an opportunity to work 12 months," Sasse said.

Mowen said another group is preliminarily recommending a Washington County School for the Arts. Select students in grades nine through 12 would attend the school. Admission criteria has not been decided, she said.

Mowen said she didn't have a cost estimate of the school or an exact location, but one possibility would be downtown Hagerstown.

School Board approval would be required for those and other recommendations by the study groups. The groups' final report should be completed by the end of the month, Mowen said.

"Right now there's a lot of interest, but no final recommendations have been made," she said.

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