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Judge halts Wake year-round school plan

Posted May 3, 2007
Updated April 29, 2008

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— The Wake County school system cannot convert 22 traditional-calendar schools to mandatory year-round schedules this summer, a judge ruled Thursday.

Superior Court Judge Howard Manning's decision throws the district's plans for the 2007-08 school year into chaos, with only three months to find classroom space for an expected 8,000 new students, hire teachers and rework bus routes.

The school board called an emergency meeting for Friday morning to discuss its next move.

"Obviously, it causes a lot of concerns for us at this point," district spokesman Michael Evans said. "The board's going to walk through this step by step, and we'll come up with a decision that's going to be the best, given the circumstances we're facing."

The district approved moving 19 elementary schools and three middle schools to year-round schedules last fall, saying they needed the extra space provided by year-rounds to accommodate surging enrollments. Manning's ruling not only affects the 22 schools, but it affects any studetn who is currently assigned to a year-round or modified year-round school.

But a group of parents, organized as WakeCares, sued to block the move, contending that forcing them to switch schedules would be unfair to their children and would disrupt family life. The mayors of Apex and Garner backed the parents' group, saying their towns would suffer in year-round conversions and the district's decision deprives many parents of educational choices.

In a 35-page decision, Manning ruled that school districts can require students only to attend a traditional-calendar school. Any assignments to magnet or year-round schools must be voluntary, he said, citing a 2004 state law that said public schools should begin classes no earlier than Aug. 25 and end no later than June 10.

"The Wake County Board of Education lacks the statutory authority to convert traditional-calendar schools to mandatory year-round. Thus, the board of education may not require the attendance of students at year-round calendar schools without informed parental consent," he ruled.

About 20,000 families would have been be affected by the conversions.

"We'd like to thank Judge Manning for protecting the right of children to an equal-opportunity education," said Kathleen Brennan of WakeCares.

"The No. 1 thing that strikes me is never underestimate the determination of some mommas," Apex Mayor Keith Weatherly said about the parents' victory in the suit.

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, district officials have said.

Manning's ruling opens the door to a possible legislative battle for the district, which could turn to lawmakers to obtain the statutory authority for the year-round conversions.

WakeCares members complained Thursday that district administrators didn't prepare a back-up plan in the event they lost the lawsuit. Now, they said, thousands of students and families are left in limbo as the district scrambles to make up ground.

"We are extremely sorrowful if this is going to cause any kind of problem for families that have made plans because we know what that is like," said Patrice Lee of WakeCares.

"This is a false crisis made up by the school system for whatever reason," Weatherly said.

988 Comments

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  • bridges May 4, 2007

    PFK maybe your kids would be prepared if you took he role of an adult and prepare them, there is no way your kids are not aware of this issue, it is about the kids so they are very much involved. Just because they will still have 5 classes same as this year does not mean they will have the same amount of students, because of reassignemnt, every thought of that??? You may applaude wakecares or "wake I only care about my situation" but now I applaud the BOE for going forward as planned.....its to late in the year for this BS for these small groups of whiners.

  • Not_a_true_Southerner May 4, 2007

    As a person who comes from an overtaxed school system, I think everyone in Wake county is fortunate that at least the BoE LOOKS towards the future. I can tell you right now that the population boom the Triangle experiences within the next 5 years will be astronomical. Before you know it your kids will be sitting in a class of 40 with an inexperienced and over-worked teacher.
    Maybe YR is not best right now but it may come to pass.It's more efficient financially and educationally than building new schools.
    Obviously, the best solution is not going to come up overnight but AT LEAST the conversation got started before the problem occurred.

    To a much earlier comment: One of the reasons I relocated here was the given notion of "Southern hospitality" and innate niceness. Making comments like telling all the transplants to move back and the illegals to get out (by the way they are not all Latin) was neither hospitable nor nice. Oh and you can thank Mr. Helms for the all re-locators.

  • PFK May 4, 2007

    Thanks to everyone for their responses. (truly) Eventhough we disagree on some things I know we all want what is best for our families. And what ever the outcome we will adjust or move on I guess. I am going to play with my kids and be a Mom now :)

  • PFK May 4, 2007

    Bridges,
    No. I am not a member of WakeCares.I do applaud them for standing up for something. And believe it or not my kids are VERY prepared for YR. THANKYOU. I teach my kids the right thing.I don't involve them in adult issues. That doesn't mean I like it. YES LETS VOTE. I am all for it. And maybe your school did have reduced classes. Does that mean they ALL will? Our school tells me that we have 5 kinder. classes now and there will be 5 next year(with supposedly an BIG increase in students) How does this REDUCE the class room? I have no ill will to anyone, Ijust want straight answers. WakeC. stated that WCPSS is actually down almost 300 students since the beginning of the year NOT up. And there is no way there is going to be 8,000 more students. Plus 5 new schools this fall. On the other hand the BOE says different. If you have access to info the rest of us doesn't please let us know. I just want the facts, before I am told what to do. And yes I do think we have the right to

  • PFK May 4, 2007

    Belle
    Once again!! you that are for YR yell at those of us that aren't. you are the Pollyanna Dear. There are Many states that try YR only to convert back to traditional later.
    And YES, I want my child to go to the CLOSEST school to were we LIVE!!!! What idiot doesn't? We should be allowed to go to the closest schools, IF YOU MOVE YOU LOSE!!! And I take it YOU must have gotten the track YOU ask for???

  • bridges May 4, 2007

    PKF obviously you are a member of Wake Cares, fist of all I never said I perferred year round over a traditionaly calendar? I was converted in 2006 and make it work to my benefit, and that is where wake cares is irresponsible. Instead of working with the school board you are fitting every option they come of with, they are in a very difficult situation with the rapid growth and doing a darn good job making it work. My son's class is 20-30% smaller and that is more important than having 3 months out in a row. You are irresponsible when you don't teach your kids to compromise from time to time. I sincerly hope your actions do not impact me negativatily in the following school year but things don't look good. You are irresponsible going to court without getting the opinion of the majority of the parents in the district, those regardless of the preference. And again I don't have a preference, I know how to comprimise and make it work and put an education over the time I can take a

  • belle May 4, 2007

    not raising enough hell with the Commissioners, but then they have to work with them. It was your job.

    I have read somewhere that 75% of the taxpayers in Wake County do not have children in school. That’s a whole lot of people ponying up for your kids’ education, and I for one think it mighty discourteous to complain about the schedule. Yes, it costs more to run a YR school, but you don’t have to build or staff or maintain one whole school for every three YRs.

    You say you want to choose what calendar your want for your little darlings, and that choice should shape the whole school (the closest one to you, naturally). What about next year? Should you be allowed to then change your mind? How about after you move away?

    What we really need is classes in Citizenship.

  • belle May 4, 2007

    Now before you start yapping about how the BOE has mismanaged things, understand two facts. The County Commissioners decide revenue issues. If there has not been enough money to accommodate growth, lay it on the County Commissioners, slippery though they are. Fact #2 is that the BOE has known for years that this day of reckoning was coming. Had you done the homework and read about growth on the school system website, you can see the projections of years past and into the future. If anything the school system has been guilty of not raising enough hell with the Commissioners, but then they have to work with them. It was your job.

    I have read somewhere that 75% of the taxpayers in Wake County do not have children in school. That’s a whole lot of people ponying up for your kids’ education, and I for one think it mighty discourteous to complain about the schedule. Yes, it costs more to run a YR school, but you don’t have to build or staff or maintain one whole school for every thre

  • belle May 4, 2007

    This is to the pollyannas who think positive, uplifting rhetoric will shape reality: you have watched too much TV. In real life, at the end the hero usually dies.

    What ever gave you the idea that the BOE exists to represent your wishes? They are elected to run the school system, just like the Sheriff is elected to uphold the law, and the Recorder of Deeds to keep track of real estate transactions (I guess).

    Now before you start yapping about how the BOE has mismanaged things, understand two facts. The County Commissioners decide revenue issues. If there has not been enough money to accommodate growth, lay it on the County Commissioners, slippery though they are. Fact #2 is that the BOE has known for years that this day of reckoning was coming. Had you done the homework and read about growth on the school system website, you can see the projections of years past and into the future. If anything the school system has been guilty of not raising enough hell with the Commissioners, bu

  • PFK May 4, 2007

    Pooh Thanks for the input. I am trying to understand all this. But it seems to me they ARE NOT going to get extra help. My school told me that the classrooms will NOT be smaller and the school would still be full(we just get our art and Music rooms back) so where exactly does the extra help come from? And on YR there is only ONE teacher per grade per track (2 for track 4). My 2nd grader child has had Excellent attention for some issues he has, mostly because I was able to request a certain kind of teacher for my child. It was great! But now there is no choice of teachers for the principle to pick from. My childs teacher is determined ONLY by track. How can this be helpful?
    Another concern is the kids that need summer help--where do they go on a YR schedule? Just another thought for the YRers. I worked in a dental office for many years. Can you imagine how hard it will be to work out time off if the Dr. his assistants and the hygienist all have kids on different tracks. traditi

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