School Board approves year-round school at Chesterfield elementary school

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. – The Chesterfield School Board approved a pilot program Friday morning that will change the school year schedule for one elementary school in the district.

Bellwood Elementary will be the first school in Chesterfield to try the year-round schedule.

Starting in the 2018-2019 school year, students will be in school for nine weeks, then out of school for three weeks and the cycle will continue throughout the year.

The new scheduled will eliminate a longer summer break.

Chesterfield school officials say research shows year-round schedules have proven to be beneficial, especially for economically disadvantaged students.

In a memo from Superintendent Dr. James Lane, addressing the school board, he explained:

"Research demonstrates that summer learning loss is a critical issue, especially for economically disadvantaged students. One study found that low income students made similar achievement gains together students during the school year, but the widening of the achievement gap between the two groups occurred over the summer... One way to combat these issues is year-round schools," wrote Dr. Lane.

Chesterfield schools says studies show that year-round schedules can help with student and teacher burnout, student behavioral issues, more income for staff and access to healthy meals.

But the change does not come without some pushback from parents.

Some told CBS 6 they feel dismissed, upset, and even panicked about the change.

Some parents have major concerns about logistics and what this change will mean for their home-life.

“I’ve got five students in three diff schools in the Chesterfield district and right now 65 of those days are conflicted schedules so it’s going to be very hard,” said Bellwood parent Elizabeth Young. “If it were county-wide it may be a little easier to step into, but doing it with just this one school, it’s going to be hard for a lot of families in this area that depend on their older kids for child care.

The pilot program comes with a price tag. It’s going to cost the district about $125,000 per year, according to chesterfield school officials. They say a lot of the funds will go towards staffing and transportation.

To cover the costs, Chesterfield Schools applied for a grant from the state, but some parents worry about what will happen when and if the grant is not renewed in the future.

The year-round plan will take effect beginning July 2018.