Local News

Year-Round School Debate Have Some Looking At High Schools

Posted July 13, 2005

— The Wake County Board of Education's proposed plan to switch 20 public schools to a mandatory year-round schedule has drawn criticism from parents who say they want their children to have summer breaks.

With the increased population growth, school system officials say year-round schools can accommodate 25 percent more elementary and middle school students.

When it comes to year-round schools, Wake County parent Lauren Watral is all for them. In fact, she says she would like year-round high school.

"I'm personally for year-round school," Watral said. "It's economical; you get more use out of the school."

But, high schools in Wake County are left virtually untouched by the year-round discussion.

"I think high schools are far more complicated than elementary or middle school," said East Wake High School Principal Dr. Herman Norman.

Norman says leaders need to consider challenges with athletic schedules, community college classes and summer jobs.

"So many of our students must have summer jobs to supplement the family income," Norman said.

Wake County does have an example from which it can learn. Southeast Raleigh High School is on a modified year-round schedule, but it is not the same as the other systemwide year-round tracks, which is what parents say they need to make it work for their families.

"If we're going to ask more people to use year-round schools, it's important to have a K through 12 calendar available," said Wake County school board member Bill Fletcher.

Fletcher says some school calendar alignment is necessary.

"It's something people in year-round have been asking for a decade," he said.

Watral wants the discussion to start now.

"I think it's inevitable, but it's going to be a fight to get it instituted," Watral said.

There are about 265 year-round high schools nationwide, including one in Cumberland County. It is a cultural arts school without an athletic program. Newton-Conover schools had a year-round high school, but scheduling problems and a lack of community support led the school system to abandon the idea.


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