Johnston County weighs ending year-round schooling

SMITHFIELD, N.C. (WNCN) — Johnston County Schools could end the county’s year-round schooling program as soon as this summer.

The programs cost more than traditional schedules, officials said, and a recent student didn’t show any improvement in the test scores of schools offering courses year-round.

South Smithfield and West Smithfield elementary schools offer year-round instruction. As a result, they cost an extra $100,000 per year to operate, mostly because of staff and transportation costs.

“We all are stewards of taxpayer money and we have to look at programs and processes critically,” said Eddie Price, the school system’s chief academic officer.

While a recent study didn’t show any conclusive benefit, in terms of test scores, to the year-round schedule, some teachers worry their students will do worse with traditional breaks.

“They need that year-round type of learning where you are not out of school for eight to ten weeks during the summer and not getting any reading or writing or math skills,” said Sandra Edwards, a tutor and interim teacher at South Smithfield Elementary School. She is retired after serving as a kindergarten teacher at the school for more than 30 years.

Kisa Hargett of Selma said her oldest son struggled as he moved from South Smithfield Elementary School, one of two Johnston County schools on a year-round schedule, to middle school.

“His first, probably, month of school needed to be remediation because there was so much time to forget information that wasn’t retained quite as well as I would have liked it to be,” she said.

The decision comes down to a cost-benefit analysis, Price said.

“You look at $200,000, and determine that with inconclusive results on student achievement, you have to compare that to the adult perception and decide is this where you want to go,” he said.

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