Local News

Year-Round Schedules Already Challenging Day Cares

Posted November 9, 2006

— Day-care centers are gearing up for a major operational shift next fall, when almost two dozen Wake County elementary and middle schools switch to year-round schedules.

More area schools are expected to switch to the schedule -- in which rotating groups of students take three-week breaks throughout the year rather than everyone having a long summer break -- in the future to help the school district accommodate rapidly growing enrollments.

The staff at Johnson Pond Learning Center in Fuquay-Varina is trying to figure out what's next for the center. Nearby Ballantine Elementary School is scheduled to go year-round, which means the day-care center would have to offer more programs and find more space to handle more students all year long.

"We've had parents bombarding us with questions about year-round, track out, what programs we'll have available," said Laurie Morrison, who operates Johnson Pond. "It's a big financial struggle for us. We need the space, we need the teachers and we need to have potentially 20 to 30 kids per track to make it a program that's viable for us."

The Triangle YMCA has had Tracking Out programs for year-round students since 1988, and officials said the challenge they face is how to expand it.

"What we're studying is the logistics of it and making sure we're still able to deliver quality programs," Jennifer Nelson of the YMCA said.

Neither Nelson nor Morrison anticipate having to increase costs to fund additional programs, they said.

Parents said they still feel caught in the middle of the schedule shift.

Both of Donna Long's children will go to year-round school next year, but she said she won't know their schedules until next spring. By then, she said, her day care might not be able to accommodate them during their breaks.

"We don't know what we're going to do, and not knowing is the worst part," Long said.


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