Johnston County to end year-round schools

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SMITHFIELD, N.C. (WNCN) – The Johnston County Board of Education has voted to end year-round school at South Smithfield and West Smithfield elementary schools, the two schools that currently offer the schedule.UPDATE: 2 Johnston County elementary schools begin last year of year-round classes today

The 2017-2018 school year will be the schools’ last as year-round institutions.

Chief Academic Officer Eddie Price said at a board meeting Tuesday that year round schools are more expensive but are not getting better test scores than traditional schools.

Board member Ronald Johnson became emotional pleading for other board members not to support the change, asking them to trust teachers who say it works.RELATED:Johnston County weighs ending year-round schooling

“Speaking with the teachers who are on the front line of educating our students in these Title I schools, they believe it is helping our students,” Johnson said.

But board members ultimately decided that the schedule isn’t worth the extra expense.

“Are we getting a return on investment for the approximate $180,000 to $200,000 dollars additional spending each year at those two schools? It is the data-supported opinion of the curriculum and instructional department that we are not,” said Eddie Price, the school system’s chief academic officer.

Advocates thought that if students’ time off was spread into more, smaller breaks throughout the year, they might forget less during summer break.

But students at schools with the traditional calendar in Johnston County did just as well on retention tests as students at the year-round schools.

“It is obvious the intent of the calendar has not come to fruition,” Price said.

But teachers and parents at the school are convinced that year-round schooling makes a difference.

“The adult stakeholders who participated in the last two surveys on the enhancement calendar were overwhelmingly in favor of the calendar. Parents and teachers indicated that the calendar is a positive aspect in the school,” Price said.

The board voted 6 to 1 to make the change.

One parent who opposed the change, Jamie Foy, said in a written statement that she was glad the board at least voted to put off the transition until after the 2017-2018 school year.

But she criticized how the board made the decision.

The lack of transparency the Board of Education and Dr. Renfrow (the system’s superintendent) have demonstrated throughout this entire decision making process is discouraging to those parents and teachers that are trying to stay involved but feel their voice went unheard. Parents that will be impacted the most do not have access to view the meetings and cannot leave work to attend.

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