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Reassignment Plan Moves Forward, Despite Funding Setback

Posted January 9, 2007

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— A day after Wake County commissioners voted to withhold funding for 22 mandatory year-round schools, the Wake County Public School System released the final draft of its 2007-2008 reassignment plan, which is based largely on those schools transitioning from a traditional academic calendar.

Wake County school board members were left to determine how to proceed in the wake of the commissioners' decision, but they voted Tuesday to move forward with the plan and decided to look at other ways to get the $3.4 million needed to convert the 19 elementary schools and three middle schools.

What those options are, however, was not immediately clear.

School board members also decided Tuesday to have the school system's attorney look at legal options regarding the commissioners' vote.

“I think the footprint here is a decision that’s not about fiscal resources, but about usurping the school board’s policy-making authority,” said Ann Majestic, legal counsel for the board, at Tuesday's meeting.

The commissioners said they need more time to study the plan.

The reassignment proposal -- the product of almost two years of planning to help manage the school system's booming student population -- affects 11,079 students, or about 300 more students than the last version of the plan in December.

Under it, 6,790 students would be moved to schools closer to their homes, and 3,746 students would have the opportunity to exercise a "grandfathering" option of staying at their current school provided they find their own transportation.

The reassigned students would fill the additional seats created by the year-round conversions and fill five new schools, including three year-round elementary schools -- East Garner Elementary, North Forest Pines Elementary and Sanford Creek Elementary -- and two new middle schools: East Cary Middle and Wendell Middle.

As part of their decision Monday, county commissioners also voted to withhold $3.7 million that would relocate mobile classrooms from schools that were slated for year-round conversion.

They did increase the allocation of funds to build new schools that were part of the bond package from $282 million to $312 million, but they did not allocate funds for many renovation projects that would not add capacity to schools.

"I asked the school board to expend moneys to increase capacity so that they could go back and address the issues where people have no choice -- their being forced into year-round school," County Commissioner Paul Coble said.

The funding is part of last fall's highly debated $970 million school construction bond that Wake County voters approved in November. Although the funding is for schools, county commissioners decide how to allocate the money.

"We were under the impression that the county commissioners were on board with this plan that we have," school board member Horace Tart said.

Tart said he is surprised by what he calls a "change of heart" by the majority of county commissioners.

But groups who were opposed to the school bond said it should not have come as a surprise, because the board and opponents of the bond talked about possible changes after the bond passed.

"They talked about a dialog after the bond passed, that we can amend this thing and change it," said Francis DeLuca, state director for Americans for Prosperity of North Carolina. "What you're seeing now is the fruits of that labor -- that the grassroots people have been talking."

If the school board cannot find the money they need to convert the schools, the commissioners' vote might force it to consider other alternatives, such as charter schools, modular units and private-public partnerships -- in which a private developer builds schools and the school system leases the buildings.

But Superintendent Del Burns said there currently are no alternatives. May 15 is the deadline by state law for schools to give school assignments.

School district leaders said that, without the conversion of those schools, they will be at least 4,000 seats short for the start of the next school year.

"Our plan is the best, given the time remaining," Burns said.

Meanwhile, parents are growing concerned over the latest developments and are left wondering what to think.

"It's kind of like we're in the dark, right now," said Laquita Cotton, whose child attends Leesville Elementary School, which is slated for year-round conversion. ""And we're trying to figure out what's going on."

For other parents frustrated by the lack of choice, county leaders' decision gives them hope that a traditional calendar will remain at Leesville Elementary and 21 others.

"For me personally, that would be wonderful if it does not go year-round," said Leesville parent Desiree Clemons.

There will be three public hearings on the revised reassignment plan: Jan. 16 at 6:30 p.m. at Green Hope and Middle Creek high schools; Jan. 18 at 6:30 p.m. at Leesville High School; and Jan. 24 at 6:30 p.m. at Knightdale High School.

A final plan is expected in February.

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  • ladybug467 Jan 10, 2007

    Hi, here are some hard to take truth statements: There are too many kids, something has to be done. If anyone is SO DEAD SET againt year around school, due to the lack of education value your child would get, the pay for your child to go to private school. If you can not afford private school then put up with what your and everyone's tax $$$ will get you. BUT all this whining and complain until you get your way with your kids watching you do it isn't teaching them a good life skill. EVERYONE doesn't always get what they want. The teachers have a hard enough job with out putting up with parent's schedule issues. I'm sorry for any toes I have tapped danced on but it needs to be about the child's education valve (@ home and @ school) and nothing else.

  • renaissanceman Jan 10, 2007

    I think one way to end alot of the problems with year round conversions is to make sure you convert all middle and high schools to year round if the elementary school is year round...It also needs to be a guarantee if you have kids in elementary,middle,and or high school they will all be on the same track.

  • 3kids2kats Jan 10, 2007

    The reason some of us are yelling about childcare is because in the summer we have older children (in my case, a 14 yr. old middle schooler and 16 yr. old high schooler) who are home with younger siblings. Currently, I have no childcare costs, but by being FORCED to a year round schedule at the elementary school, I will have childcare expenses that I cannot AND should not have to afford!

  • mosscl33 Jan 10, 2007

    I do not understand what everyone is yelling about the cost of child care being more with year round as opposed to traditional. In the end of a year they children are out the same amt of time and the amt you pay in lump sum for summer camp with traditional as opposed to care at say the YMCA for year round is the SAME AMT OF MONEY......It was voted on...passed...and thats the story end of it. All this is doing is making matters worse for everyone. If I remember right they (school board) wanted more money years ago to build more schools and it would have raised the taxes.....everyone voted NO...so now you reap what you sow folks........

  • aycock2j3k Jan 10, 2007

    R we really doing whats best for the kids? R we fighting for the kids or for what is better for us? R we made becauseor kids have to move schools or because we have to make change to our lives? Our children are the next generations, we need to think of them in all of this, whether our parents fought for us or not we need to do whats best for the kids not the parents.

    as a mother of 3 children in elementary school, next year my children will be in different schools on different schedules and yes i will have to make alot of changes but as long as it's best for my children i say yes!!! my oldest 2 girls have been in traditional and alternate school (9 weeks on 2 weeks out) and they love the school they are in now more then they ever did traditional but either way, i really believe these parents that are getting so mad about all of this really need to sit down and look at it all, what's really the problem with our kids having to change from traditional to year round, or year round to t

  • iamrunningalong Jan 10, 2007


    1100 new homes???! Let's guess that if it averages out to ONE child per home (some have none, some might have 3...) that's 1100 kids moving to that area! Yup - some will move from other areas - so they aren't "new" to the school system. But - some aren't born yet, some will come from other counties, states or even countries. Where will they go to school?

  • genralwayne Jan 10, 2007

    Everyone seems surprised by this. It's standard North Carolina Politics - Tell the voters what they want to hear to seal their votes, get the funding approved, then dump the promises and spend it as we planned all along. Yup, P.T., there's a sucke...um...voter born every minute!

  • badjudgement Jan 10, 2007

    People will get used to year round. It is something that isn't normal to most, but over time people will be happier than they think. Families can save money by taking family vacations at differrent times of the year. The biggest problem is that the schools need to GUARANTEE sibblings on the same track.

  • Ainjeh Jan 10, 2007

    I am a widow and single parent of two children. One is 16 and spent K-8 in year round schools and now is in a traditional high school. I have an 11 year old who is in year round and now there is a possibility that she may have to go to traditional as we will need to reapply to get her into year round middle school instead of being granfathered in. She's upset and I'm upset. The year round middle school is closer to our home and the traditional further away. Those who are complaining about year round don't know a thing about it because they are not in it. We seem to manage just fine having one in traditional and one in year round. Wake up people, Wake County is booming. In the past 2 years we have had five neighborhoods go up around my home. I agree that moving kids from school to school every few years is crazy. I'm not sure what the answers should be, but something must be done and soon.

  • inmyopinion3 Jan 10, 2007

    What is wrong with year round schools?? Its a simple wuestion that nobidy has answered? Does it afford better education, it should as class sizes are reduced, does it prevent excessively long vacations at one point in the year, yes it does its a win win. The only people complaining aree the stay at home moms who's coffee mornings or gym classes may get interrupted, get a life put our childrens education first. Year round schools are a much much better alternative to overcrowding and if your answer is new schools that only delays the introduction of year round! Wake county is growing at a high rate its that simple, do you want to stop this growth because you have found your comfort zone? Its stinks of not on my doorstep! I say full speed ahead with year round schools if you disapprove then enlist your child in a school that is not year round or a private school.