RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Fairfield Court Elementary is the latest school to adopt a 200-day school year after the Richmond School Board has voted to approve the “experiment” at the most recent board meeting.
Leaders voted in favor of the plan, called “RPS200,” at a meeting on Monday, March 6.
This plan would add 20 instructional days to the school year’s existing 180 days starting in the 2023-24 school year. While breaks, holidays and the last day of school would remain the same for all RPS schools, RPS200 schools would begin their school year 20 days early. RPS200 teachers will have an 11-month schedule.
Families also have the option to leave or transfer into an RPS200 school, as long as there is space for a new student.
One of the main intentions for this new type of school year is to address education gaps caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Test scores and academic achievement have been plummeting in the district since the pandemic started. But under the new schedule, schools can offer different pacing or to hold intervention weeks, which according to supporters may help reverse learning loss in at-risk students.
“I can’t think of many things we can do as a board to move in a more substantive way,” School Board Member Jonathan Young said.
Both teachers and parents of students at Fairfield Court Elementary spoke in favor of the longer school year during Monday’s meeting. But the idea was not without opponents.
Kenya Gibson, 3rd District board member opposed the plan. She expressed concerns about funding the program.
2nd District member Mariah White also disagreed with the motion. She said Fairfield Court is already accredited, and that the support should have gone to struggling schools. She also questioned whether the plan would have any impact on reversing learning loss.
“I’m not sure what 20 days will make a difference from 180 days,” White said.
Three other schools applied for and were considered for the longer school year. Westover Hills Elementary previously voted against it. Families are still voting at Overby-Sheppard Elementary and Cardinal Elementary. Superintendent Jason Kamras, who spearheaded the effort, said the school board will hold another vote on these schools at its next meeting if they decide to adopt RPS200.
This is a developing story. Stay with 8News for updates.