Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Congratulations, Virginia? Year-round schools are a step closer to reality

Some people love it ... others hate it. One thing is for sure ... it certainly livens up a conversation when folks bring up year-round schools, and today news was received from sponsor Valley Del. Steve Landes' office (R-25th House District) that HB 2076 had passed both legislative bodies in Richmond:
A House Bill and a House Joint Resolution sponsored by Del. R. Steven Landes, R-Weyers Cave, which will create the Office of the Inspector General and a study to examine the efficacy of year-round schooling have both passed the Senate.

“I was pleased to see the bipartisan and bicameral support of these two pieces of legislation,” Landes said. “House Bill 2076 creates a new watchdog agency that will be able to investigate complaints of government waste and inefficiencies. House Joint Resolution 646, meanwhile, will begin to provide information for the General Assembly to help regain our competitive edge for our education system.”

House Bill 2076, Office of the Inspector General, establishes the Office of the Inspector General to be headed by a State Inspector General to investigate complaints alleging fraud, waste, abuse, corruption, or mistreatment of citizens of the Commonwealth by a state agency or public officers and employees. The bill also authorizes the State Inspector General to examine the management and operation of state agencies and provides a record exemption under the Freedom of Information Act for certain documents of the Office. The bill consolidates the existing offices of Inspector General of the Departments of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, Corrections, Juvenile Justice, and Transportation into this new office.

This new office will increase oversight of state government and make it easier to fulfill its watchdog duty to protect the public.

House Joint Resolution 646 directs the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission
to conduct a two year study on the efficacy of year-round schools. The study will review different systems locally, nationally and abroad that have already implemented and alternative educational technique noting both the advantages and disadvantages of each system. The study will also evaluate essential factors that must be considered before implementing year-round schools statewide, including, but not limited to, instructional costs, transportation and special education services, and the need for additional classroom teachers, staff, and support services.

This study should bring out the pros as well as the cons of implementing year-round school with input from educators, parents, administrators, and legislators.
I wrote about this subject for the Washington Examiner, exploring the pros and cons of year-round schools. In "Year-round schools coming to Virginia?" I noted that President Barack Obama's education czar Arne Duncan is pushing the idea. Read the article for pros and cons and why some school systems that went with year-round schools in the past reverted back to a traditional school year.

Cross-posted at Virginia Virtucon

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