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Year-round school?

May 13, 2002|BY BOB MAGINNIS

The idea of holding school year-round is revived periodically as a proposed antidote to poor student performance, so it's no surprise that a citizen study group would suggest it for Hagerstown's Bester and Winter Street elementary schools. But the committee needs to consider how the new program would affect one of the problems it hopes to solve.

That's mobility, which means the tendency of some families to move in and out of school districts frequently. There are a lot of reasons for it, but as any teacher can tell you, it takes some time for a class to become a unit, to work together to learn.

When a new student joins the class, the teacher must spend extra time getting him or her adjusted. Now imagine a continuing parade of students, in and out of the class.

The proposal to fix this comes from a citizen group appointed by Interim Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan. Committee member says their research shows that test scores go up with a year-round program because students don't need that long period of review after summer vacation.

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What we're not clear on is what would happen when a student from a school with a nine-month program moved into a year-round school. Lesson plans for any given date wouldn't match between the two systems, so a student moving in wouldn't have covered the same material as the 12-month students.

This could be solved by prohibiting transfers between the two systems, but that would mean arranging transportation out of district. Let us suggest another possibility.

Whether or not year-round school is instituted - and we'd bet that not all teachers will be as enthusiastic as Claude Sasse, the teachers association president - the mobility problem needs to be addressed with parenhts.

Just as they did to get parents on board to make Salem Avenue Elementary a Blue-Ribbon School, educators need to meet parents face-to-face and tell them that constantly changing addresses is not just as inconvenience for the school system, but a harmful thing for their children.

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