It's on the Board Of Ed meeting agenda for Monday.
The idea of holding classes year-round is being considered by one school district in the region. Jefferson County, West Virginia is looking at that concept, says David Blanc, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction. "We've been given a little bit of a prod from our state department of education to explore that," he says. Locally, Blanc says, there's been some interest to at least look into it.
In the past, he says, the West Virginia legislature determined when schools opened for the year, and when they closed. Blanc says recently, lawmakers gave local school districts the flexibility to consider year-round school, so long as students attended the mandated 180 days of classes.
Frederick County Public Schools also discussed that idea in the 1980's and 1990's, when Dr. Noel Farmer was Superintendent.
If Jefferson County Public Schools adopted year-round classes, Blanc says students would not be required to attend classes every week of the year. In many cases, they would attend school during four or five-week blocks, with a three-week break in between. "They'll see the traditional Christmas time and Easter time spring breaks," he says. "But then a few more breaks dispersed throughout the school year." The 10-week long summer vacation would be a thing of the past, he says. Instead, the students would probably get a three-week break during the warm weather months.
Some experts say students sometimes forget what they learn during the summer vacation period, and have to relearn it when they come back to school. "Students maybe don't forget as much as they learn, and teachers don't have to spend so much re-teaching when the students come back to school. They haven't had as much time to forget what they previously learned."
But there are some disadvantages, says Blanc. Teachers wouldn't have the time to attend workshops in the summer to keep current with their profession, and many students have summer jobs and other activities between June and August. And there's also the problem of how to schedule maintenance, if the buildings are occupied most of the time during the year. "And I'm sure some of the concerns are how we maintain our buildings and do construction on buildings when there's not an extended break there," he says.
Although the Jefferson County School Board will discuss that issue on Monday night, Blanc doesn't expect panel members to vote to go forward with year-round school that evening. He says more than likely, the Board of Education will decide to conduct a survey of students, teachers and the community to gauge their opinions on the issue.
The meeting begins at 7:00 PM on Monday at the Board of Education office. Blanc asks anyone who wants to testify to sign up prior to the meeting.