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      Year-round school program expands in Lapeer

      Going to school year-round sounds like a kidâ??s worst nightmare but in Lapeer, the new "year-round program" is so popular; it's expanding to the middle school level.

      The year-round program started this school year with 400 students in kindergarten through fifth grade. Now, the school board is offering the optional program to middle school students too.

      Shorter summers and a longer academic year are the norm at Turrill Elementary School in Lapeer.

      â??I just notice that the energy level is different,â?? says Dave Chaffin.

      Chaffinâ??s son is a fourth grader at Turrill. He says his son is now more excited about what administrators call, "a balanced calendar."

      â??Everything is divided up evenly, I guess the key word that keeps coming up is balanced,â?? says Chaffin.

      The students here still get a break. Their summer vacation is about six weeks long. Plus, students get three additional breaks during the school year.

      "It works on a calendar that meets a lot of the family's needs,â?? says Ken Janczarek, principal of Turrill Elementary School.

      Janczarek says longer schools years can help improve state assessment scores.

      â??Rather than coming back to school and trying to prepare for the M.E.A.P. test for third through fifth grade, the students have a full month to start learning,â?? says Janczarek.

      Starting this August, middle school students at Rolland-Warner can also choose a year-long program.

      â??It just keeps things fresh in the brain; it keeps the kids focused on the academics that they're learning,â?? says Ron Reed, director of secondary education for the Lapeer school district. â??It really is a great strategy to defeat the brain drain of the summer,â?? adds Reed.

      The program is optional. Rolland-Warner will also have a traditional school program.

      Parents can opt-in to the program and demand is so high, there is a lottery system in place.