Is Leesville Road Middle School a safer place since it was converted to a year-round calendar in July?
That's an argument made in a press release Tuesday by BiggerPicture4Wake and at Tuesday's CEM meeting by supporters of keeping Leesville Middle on a year-round calendar. BiggerPicture says that "incidences of violent behavior and school suspensions have dramatically decreased" since conversion.
For instance, BiggerPicture says Leesville Middle recorded 370 suspensions involving 188 students during the 2008-09 school year. But since July 1, the group says there have been 90 suspensions involving 62 students.
“If the Board of Education is truly focused on improving the County’s graduation rate, they should be paying close attention to what’s happening at LRMS. This is a solid example of how the year-round calendar can be used to improve academic achievement,” said Marguerite LeBlanc, a co-founder of BiggerPicture in the press release.
The group got the data for this school year after making a public records request to the district.
Here's the group's press release:
Year-round calendar credited for dramatic decrease in discipline issues at Leesville Road Middle School
RALEIGH, N.C. – Feb. 23, 2010 – Incidences of violent behavior and school suspensions have dramatically decreased at Leesville Road Middle School since the school converted to a year-round schedule for the 2009-2010 school year.
According to the 2008-2009 WCPSS Healthy Schools Report, LRMS recorded 370 suspensions involving 188 students. In contrast, since the year-round conversion, there have been 90 suspensions involving 62 students reported between July 1, 2009 and Jan. 19, 2010.
School officials credit the year-round schedule for the improvement. They say the multi-track, year-round schedule has enabled them to better identify students who are at higher risk for discipline issues and proactively work one-on-one with them to avoid incidences that could lead to suspension.
LRMS staff are using the year-round calendar as a tool to improve the school’s learning environment, according to Marguerite LeBlanc, co-founder of BiggerPicture4Wake.
As noted in a recent report from the News & Observer (“State ranks No. 4 in school suspensions,” Dec. 13, 2009), school suspension increases the likelihood that students will drop out of school.
“If the Board of Education is truly focused on improving the County’s graduation rate, they should be paying close attention to what’s happening at LRMS. This is a solid example of how the year-round calendar can be used to improve academic achievement,” LeBlanc said.
LeBlanc notes that the decrease in violence and discipline issues at LRMS creates an atmosphere that is more conducive to teaching and learning. “In the recent teacher survey about school calendar, requested by the Board of Education, staff (62%) overwhelmingly voted to retain the year-round calendar at LRMS. No doubt the dramatic decrease in discipline issues influenced their opinions,” LeBlanc said. In addition, 64.7% said they prefer to work at a year-round school.
Only 40 percent of LRMS’s 1,252 enrollment completed the school calendar survey. Among the 505 parents who responded, 304 (60 percent) said they would prefer a traditional schedule for their child’s school. However, 54.9% reported they were either “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with LRMS on a year-round calendar.
“Perhaps parents value a safer and more positive learning environment for their children over a particular school calendar,” LeBlanc noted.
BiggerPicture4Wake plans to share the LRMS discipline information with the Wake County Board of Education members as the BOE continues to evaluate the pros and cons of the year-round calendar at LRMS and Leesville Road Elementary School.
“It is our hope that the BOE will give year-round a chance at LRMS and avoid disrupting a calendar that is obviously working well for the school’s students and teachers,” LeBlanc said.
A Community Engagement Meeting will take place tonight, Feb. 23, at Leesville Road High School, from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. The public is invited to attend.