PETERSBURG, Va. (WTVR)—At a regularly scheduled meeting, the Petersburg City Public School board voted unanimously to approve a year round-school program for two schools.
The superintendent of Petersburg City Public Schools, Dr. Joseph Melvin, proposed a year-round program be implemented at A.P. Hill Elementary and Peabody Middle to help increase academic achievement. The two schools were targeted in an effort to turn around low test scores and reestablish full accreditation.
“In order to get a different outcome we must try a different approach,” Dr. Melvin said.
He cited the success of year-round education programs in other school divisions in the Commonwealth, that have a “similar population.”
“I’m optimistic that a year-round program will boost student scores and achievement for Petersburg students,” he added.
Under the year-round program students will attend school 200 days instead of the traditional 180 days.
Those 20 extra days will be marked as intersessions. Intersessions will allow for additional instructional time, especially in math and science.
"Different methods have been tried in the past with little success, so we are very optimistic that a year-round school program will help students achieve higher SOL scores," Petersburg School Spokeswoman Nicole Bell-Van Patten said.
But some parents are not convinced more time in class is the answer.
"Let's get other ideas from other schools who are passing the SOL," one parent said. "You need to focus on the children as a whole, do not separate anyone because it makes them feel a certain type of way at the end of the day. Like maybe they are beneath, maybe they are not smart."
But on the other side of the debate are parents like Kimberly Horsey, whose four-year-old daughter could soon attend A.P. Hill Elementary.
"I don't think it's a real big problem, honestly," Horsey said. "It doesn't really matter to me, as long as she's getting her education. After all year round, you are going to college and then you are working all year round so you just have to look at it long-term."
The cost for the extra 20 days is $833,000. Federal funds will pick up $137,800; leaving the remaining $695,200 to be covered from local and state funding as well as grants.
"Look at the worth of the students," Bell Van-Patten said. "You look at the price tag, yes it's $700,000 but our students are worth that. They deserve a quality education and we owe it to them to give them a quality education."
The year-round programs at A.P. Hill Elementary and Peabody Middle will take effect in August of the 2014-2015 school year.