Petersburg advances study for year-round school session

Posted at 6:25 PM, May 01, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-01 23:48:40-04

PETERSBURG, Va. (WTVR) - Summer break could one day be a thing of the past for Petersburg students.

The City School Board is considering a proposal to hold classes year-round.

The proposal was presented by Senator Henry Marsh and is based on a study conducted for the General Assembly. It showed year-round classes tend to improve the test scores of African American students.

The school board voted unanimously Monday night to approve a feasibility study that would determine if the district would be a good fit for the program. The vast majority of parents at the meeting already seem to think the proposal is a good one.

"Just do it, that's all...just do it," said Treska Wilson-Smith, Petersburg City Council  member and grandmother to Petersburg students.

The resounding support continued  for the idea. Many parents took to the podium to express that they believe the new system will help student achievement.

"I too am in support of year round schools because it makes sense,” said one father to the board.

Under the plan proposed and supported by the Petersburg Superintendent,  Petersburg students would no longer have a two and a half month summer break but instead have shorter breaks more frequently throughout their school year.

"Year round schools have really been a benefit especially to schools that are predominantly black,” said one parent.

Recent studies have indeed shown that the system is most effective at improving standardized test scores for African American students. State delegate Roslyn Dance says keeping a continued focus for students is key.

"If the kids are out two and a half months of the summer than it takes two and a half months to get them back to what they had," said Dance.

Opposition to the new system was mostly rooted in financial concerns about additional costs to the district.

"We're already 2 million short and we're firing teachers," said a parent who does not favor the idea.

But those supportive of the system defend the fact because students will technically be attending class for the same exact number of days, the cost increase should be minimal and the benefits much larger.

"You can never catch up if you continue to do the same things that you did last year and the year before and the year before that," said Wilson- Smith