On Feb. 23, Leesville parents and community members met with the WCPSS school board to argue for or against year-round schools.
Each speaker had two minutes to address the school board members, and participants were encouraged to talk only about year-round schools, not the highly controversial diversity policy or Del Burns’s resignation.
Three years ago, Leesville Elementary converted to the year-round schedule, much to the dismay of parents who chose Leesville for its traditional schedule.
One parent noted that “Sycamore creek is currently an under-enrolled elementary school” and argued that applicants who chose Leesville for its new schedule could apply there.
Many parents argued against the fundamental idea of year-round schools, noting that, in their words, “neighborhoods have deteriorated” and that families have been torn apart due to conflicting schedules.
On the other side of the aisle, however, strong supporters of year-round schools noted better behavior at Leesville Middle school since its change to year-round. According to one parent’s statistics, the school’s rate of suspensions had dropped an average of 20 per month since the change.
Even parents who faced similar hardships at home disagreed. For example, Ms. Killian, a mother of two special-needs children argued the psychological benefits of year-round schools for autistic students. “After testing, my psychologist told me that my children would be best-served by year-round schools.”
Other special-needs parents argued that their children learned best and functioned best when they had a “predictable, traditional schedule.”
Overall, the proponents of traditional schedules controlled the auditorium’s atmosphere. With custom-made signs promoting “1 Campus, 1 Calendar, 4 Leesville” they rose to applause each time a traditional parent spoke and scowled each time year-round proponents, especially applicants, spoke.
I can make only one clear conclusion after the hearing: Leesville parents, and especially Leesville Middle school parents, are especially divided over this issue. Although their apparent love for the school’s faculty and environment united them, few people left the high school confident that a decision would be made that would make everyone happy.
Since the hearing, board members voted and upheld their campaign promises of a return to traditional schools, at least for four area schools.
Pierre Lourens served for The Mycenaean in 2008-2009 as a staff writer. In that year, he took on the project of creating the first online edition of The Mycenaean. The following year, he was a co-Editor-in-Chief with Amy Kreis.