Henrico schools throws in support for year-round school programs - NBC12.com - Richmond, VA News

Henrico schools throws in support for year-round school programs

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HENRICO & RICHMOND -

Henrico school leaders are now interested in looking into year round schooling. That's if a budget amendment passes that would allow more funding to go towards planning and implementation.

It wouldn't be mandatory for all schools, just an option.

More time in the classroom - that's what some school administrators say many students in the Richmond area need, especially if they are poor and at a disadvantage.

"An extended year, commonly called year-round schooling, may be beneficial for low, poverty students such as the children in Petersburg," said Superintendent Dr. Joseph Melvin.

Two schools in Petersburg - AP Hill Elementary and Peabody Middle - are already adding an extra 20 days. Some lawmakers and school leaders hope the bell for first period will start ringing a lot more often for other schools. They want a budget amendment that would give $3 million in grants for year-round programs.

"It doesn't have to be the whole school division. It could be a particular school," said state senator Donald McEachin (D- Henrico). "We're trying to give the localities as much flexibility to deal with their issues as they see fit."

The target: schools with children that are performing poorly on report cards and the SOL test.  A study done by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission show the students who benefit from year-round schools are on the lower economic scale, and many are African American or have limited English proficiency.

On Thursday, Henrico schools threw in their support.

"This grant would allow us to look at things like year-round schools in the extended year to see if it would be a good fit for some in our school community," said Henrico superintendent Dr. Patrick Kinlaw.

Many eastern Henrico schools would fit the profile to try year-round schooling.

Marvin Bass Elementary in Lynchburg has been doing it for eight years and says the change was worth it.

"You got to have teachers who are committed, you got to have teachers who care about children," says Bass principal Leverne Marshall.

Dr. Kinlaw says the conversation is still in its early stages and no decision has been made yet.

Year-round schools don't always mean more school days. Administrators can also arrange it so there is less time between breaks.

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