Year-round curriculum enjoyed at Richmond school

Posted at 7:21 PM, May 02, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-03 07:09:50-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - In light of recent conversation about year round school in Petersburg, CBS 6 spoke with parents and teachers at a local charter school that maintains a year-round curriculum.

Walk into the Patrick Henry School of Science and Arts, a charter school, and it looks like your typical learning environment for kids in Kindergarten through 5th grade.

"We're involved in environmental studying, environmental science and art,” said Sabrina Beamon, Principal, Patrick Henry School of Science and Arts.

Patrick Henry is one of nine elementary schools in Virginia that operates on a year-round basis which means kids start classes earlier and have shorter, more frequent breaks.

"They have that opportunity to have that continuation of learning, of studying and being able to be remediated during the year,” said Beamon.  "Not necessarily waiting for summer schools and summer programs like that.”

And that's what Eudora Wilks says her son needed.  She said that before now her son couldn't read.

"While he's in a year-round school setting, he's doing much better.  His reading skills have improved,” Wilks said.

Wilks believes the new system does have its benefits, but admits there have been challenges too.

"The first year that we came here was the transportation, having to provide your own transportation,” said Wilks.

Parent Astrid Andrews agreed and said it's taken some getting used to and requires some planning.

"They do have a few breaks throughout the year that aren't the same as the other kids.  So, just sometimes funding childcare throughout the year,” said Andrews.

But for Andrews' son, making the transition to a new school was the toughest part.

"Yeah, kind of [hard] because I miss all of my old friends,” said Victor Andrews.

While kids make new friends -- teachers said they made the most of their new break schedule.

"You're able to continue just feeling motivated.  You're not having this constant feeling like you're drained out,” said Allison Hines.

Recent studies have shown that the year-round school system is effective at improving SOL test scores for some students than traditional schools.  But school leaders tell CBS 6, they haven’t noticed a big change.  However, they say it has made a difference in student retention.