Marshall County public schools are pioneers in use of an extended school year to benefit students. Schools in Cameron are involved in a study of year-round classes. There, classes have been extended beyond the traditional school year.
The idea seems to be catching on elsewhere. Cabell County education officials are discussing an extended schedule of classes, after a pilot program at a single elementary school. In Kanwha County, where a few years of limited experience with year-round classes proved productive, the idea may be extended to the entire school system.
Any number of good arguments can be made in favor of year-round classes. But do they help in the real world?
Absolutely. In Cameron, student retention of information has improved and absenteeism is down. Students seem to be achieving more - and we have heard no complaints about the change.
One good reason for it, as Cameron educators have learned, is that long summer breaks often mean teachers must spend weeks at the start of school years conducting refresher courses on material covered the previous term. That does not happen when the long break is replaced by several shorter ones.
Long summer breaks are a relic of a time when many students lived on farms and were needed to help out with work that intensifies during that period. That is not a concern for many people now.
What should be of concern is maximizing the benefits children receive from public schools - and year-round classes are very helpful in accomplishing that.
The idea seems to be working in Cameron. With that in mind, administrators in other Northern Panhandle school districts should begin planning for extended schedules.