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Year round classes being discussed for one Richmond school

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Posted at 7:02 PM, Oct 22, 2013
and last updated 2013-10-22 19:02:10-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)--Crews are busy building a new Martin Luther King Middle School, and parents may soon see another change at the city's East End school.

"Nowadays, teachers think that every kid is on the same level and they're not,” said Lalicia Vergery-Harris.

Richmond Public Schools received a $50,000 grant by the Virginia Department of Education to study the pros and cons of turning MLK into a year-round school.

"We'll be looking at how academics will be affected, community engagement, how different organizations would support the process,” said Richmond Public School, Chief Academic Officer.

Chief Academic officer Victoria Oakley called it a long term plan for academic success at MLK.

“It's a bold opportunity for us to provide a different type of academic scheduling for students,” said Oakley.

Research shows that in states like California, where year-round school has been part of the curriculum for years, grades don’t necessarily improve with more schooling.

Over the past two school years, MLK has not made the grade when it comes to accreditation or reaching SOL benchmarks.

“I think a year round school will make a difference.  I believe we're always looking at best practices for our students,” said Oakley.

Studies also show year-round school can be more expensive because of building maintenance and utilities.

"A part of our planning grant will be to look at the budget and sustainability of all of the issues that you just asked me about,” said Oakley.

A mixed reaction from parents is to be expected.

"I think it would be too much as far as clothes and the extra expense as to have to go to school all year round school supplies all year round,” said Michelle, a parent with kids in another Richmond school.

"They need to be in school.  The longer they're in, the quicker they get out,” said Shirley Rainy.

School Administrators said the plan for a year-round school at MLK still has to go before the public and be approved by the Richmond School board.