The Times West Virginian

West Virginia

August 7, 2008

Principals back year-round schools

CHARLESTON — Three Kanawha County school principals who serve as leaders of the state’s only year-round schools say they support Gov. Joe Manchin’s call to the Legislature to investigate whether more schools would benefit from the concept.

“I am a very big supporter of year-round schooling,” said Glenwood Principal Johnny Ferrara. “It is the most efficient use of time of instruction. I think that every school in the United States should go to year-round.”

In Kanawha County, there was a flurry of activity when the three schools all went year-round about the same time. But more than a decade has passed since then with no other schools following suit.

Glenwood and Chandler began year-round schooling in 1997, one year after Piedmont implemented the concept in 1996.

Piedmont Principal Steve Knighton said year-round schooling was just one of many concepts he felt would improve academic achievement.

“It’s a strategy that we thought would help our achievement,” he said. “The teachers were having to spend two, three, four weeks reteaching the same material that was quote, unquote mastered the previous year. Now most of our kids within one week have all that stuff recalled.”

It was not easy to get started.

There were about 400 students at the school when year-round schooling began.

“I could convince the families of 200 kids that this was a good thing to do,” Knighton said.

The other half wanted nothing to do with the new schedule.

So, for the school’s first year, he split the student body and teachers in half. The first group, about 200 students, attended year-round schooling. The rest went to school on a traditional schedule. Students were allowed to choose which they wanted.

The following year, 85 percent decided to attend year-round schooling.

Then, in 1998, Kanawha County School’s Superintendent Jorea Marple announced that the entire Piedmont student body would attend year-round schooling.

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