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Lawsuit Arguments Debate Year-Round School Calendar Plan

Posted April 18, 2007

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— An attorney for the Wake County school system argued Wednesday that the district has the authority to assign students to schools and parents don't have the right to pick a school calendar.

A group of parents, organized as WakeCARES, has sued the district to block its plans to convert 19 elementary schools and three middle schools from traditional calendars to year-round schedules.

Parents said the new schedule would disrupt family life and isn't in the best interests of their children. The mayors of Apex and Garner are backing WakeCARES, maintaining that their towns would suffer in year-round conversions and the district's decision deprives many parents of educational choices.

School district administrators said converting the schools is necessary to create enough seats for an expected 8,000 new students in the fall.

Year-round schools can handle more students because students are separated into four groups with rotating schedules, with three in class and one on break at all times.

 Without the conversions, schools might have to run on split schedules, with some students attending early-morning classes and others going to school in the afternoon and evening.

"There is no constitutional right to a uniform, nine-month (school) term," said Ann Majestic, an attorney representing the district. "If the (county) commissioners wanted to provide (the district) with boatloads of more money, I'm sure they'd be glad to open more traditional schools. But that's not where we are."

About 20,000 families will be affected by the conversions.

Robert Hunter, an attorney for the parents, said forcing those families onto a year-round school calendar isn't fair. He said the families should be given a choice of going to a year-round or a traditional school.

"There is no evidence one way or another which way these 20,000 families would go. But I think I know what most of them would choose," Hunter said.

Superior Court Judge Howard Manning referred to the district's threat to begin split schedules at local schools as a "Chicken Little" approach and said the district needs to recognize why some families are so opposed to being forced onto a year-round calendar.

"This is a major, life-altering event. This is not chicken feed," Manning said. "It's not a minor thing."

But Manning lectured the parents to be grateful their children attend school in Wake County, noting many school districts across the state lack the facilities and the teachers the county offers.

The judge has toured some of the poorest-performing schools in North Carolina in recent months as he monitors the improvements he has ordered in the long-running Leandro case.

"Whatever the battle is over who goes where, just be thankful you're here," Manning said. "There are folks out there who don't have the equal opportunity to obtain a sound, basic education, and it's being denied them every single day they walk in school."


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  • wseaweed Apr 19, 2007

    what link on the wake care website tells their alternate plan?

  • Pandoras Box Apr 19, 2007

    choirgirl - it doesn't actually save money. Everyone says it does, but that is untrue. It only allows more space. Their is extra money spent on bussing, utilities, staffing, wear and tear, BUT it is supposed to accomodate more children. Problem is the BoE's numbers were off and many new MYR schools have too many seats open. I am sure the BoE had intentions of some kind when they did this, but I don't think the actually explored their numbers.

  • choirgirl Apr 19, 2007

    I just have one question - please don't bite my head off :-) but how do the year round schools save money??? I really don't get how it works.

  • poohperson2000 Apr 19, 2007

    I am not being unkind. I simply was illustrating the kind of chaos that would be created if we truly believe we have a say in our school schedules.

  • Pandoras Box Apr 19, 2007

    I will fall back on values. I have been nice in my opinions. I have not encroached on your beliefs or reasons. I have only stated that there needs to be some middle ground. I am finding that values may play a role in this argument. As I have seen the only people pointing fingers and "moaning" are the ones pro YR. Most pro traditionals are fairly nice about their opinion. Most only want a middle ground. Sad. And for the comment re:BoE - I do not blindly think that any politician or person for that matter is good and just. Wow - how perfect of a world that would be.

  • poohperson2000 Apr 19, 2007

    MARCH 13th is when the suit was filed.. How is this not the 11th hour? Track assignments were distributed on the 9th. They already spent all that time assigning tracks, and realigning where they could.

  • poohperson2000 Apr 19, 2007

    I will read what wake cares has to prevent if you look at Wake County's site. You will quickly see they both present things in a light that makes their ideas look good. Nothing new about this sort of thing. The bridge that seperates the gap is the issue of wether parents have a right to choose their childs schedule. I do not believe we have that right. If that is the case I want to file a lawsuit to change my son's school start time to be earlier so I do not have to take him to before school care. By the way I would also like him to observe some different holidays for religious reasons. His lunch time needs to be adjusted too, 11:30 is too early when school does not start to 9:15.. See where the chaos leads too? If you have the choice to decide your childs calandar, why do I not get to pick start times that work for me? If you get to have your child reassigned to a traditional calander school, why can I not have the exact track I wanted for my son?

  • 581C Apr 19, 2007

    I still have yet to hear one legitimate reason not to go to year-round. If it keeps my child's class size down and if my child doesn't have to go to school to maybe 6/7 pm then I don't see the problem. I have heard nothing but great things about year round.

    I do not feel my rights have been trampled on by this decision, only that we as a community are doing what has to be done. I do believe that in this country you do have options: if you don't like the public school you have been assigned to you can move, try private schools or home-school... or you can even try to make the best of a less than perfect situation.
    I am amazed how you have villanized the board. I am sure their entire goal in life is to think of ways to personally ruin YOUR life. These are intelligent people that have done their homework (pardon the pun) and have made the best decision they could given the circumstances.
    If u take all of this emotional crap out the equation, they made the right choice.

  • Pandoras Box Apr 19, 2007

    And in terms of the bond. Only a very small portion of that money went to converting schools. Most people looked at the bigger picture. More money for building schools. Most of the bond went to that. Where is the true choice there??? It was a sneaky underhanded way to present it. They could have had a split bond that gave different choices - but it would not have passed that way. The ONLY way to have passed converting schools to MYR is to combine the bond. Most people understand and know that we need more schools. That is a sad fact we can not get around. Further - the lawsuit took awhile because the BoE waited until last min. to respond. Check out WakeCares website. Look at their info on when things were filed and place your blame in the appropriate place.

  • Pandoras Box Apr 19, 2007


    I in no way insuinated that you did not care. I am sure you care deeply for your child or you would not feel as passionate as you do. I am upset with the comments that all traditional parents are concerned about are their vacations. It is not true. I wish it were as simple as moving. That is not possible either. So, where does that leave us. WHY can't there be common ground? You want what you feel is best for your child as others do. I want what I feel is best for my child. What is best for my child is not necessarily best for yours. All we are asking for is equality. Equal opportunity for an education that everyone can appreciate.