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School board moves ahead with year-round conversion

Posted May 4, 2007
Updated April 29, 2008

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— The Wake County Board of Education voted 6-1 on Friday to appeal a judge's ruling against mandatory year-round schools and move forward with converting 22 existing schools to a year-round schedule.

Complying with Superior Court Judge Howard Manning's Thursday ruling that the school board cannot assign students to a year-round school without parental consent, board members decided to give parents the option for the 2007-2008 school year.

The appeal would seek to clarify what Manning's ruling means for the school system and if it is overturned, would give school leaders the option of mandatory year-round schools in the future, school Superintendent Del Burns said.

Approximately 1,300 families assigned to mandatory year-round schools had requested to opt out earlier in the process. The school system had 2,600 traditional seats available for those opting out.

The school system will most likely send parents a letter in which they will have two options: the year-round school to which their children would have gone or a school with a traditional calendar.

Once parents consent, the decision is final, school board members said, and there is no guarantee where the traditional-calendar assignment would be.

"Those who do not consent, we will have to address at a traditional-calendar school, at some place in the county," Burns said. "Obviously, we'll try to make it as close to the neighborhood as we could."

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

Last fall, the school system approved moving 19 elementary schools and three middle schools to year-round schedules to accommodate the booming student population. Year-round schools, they say, give them the extra space.

The school board decided to move forward with the conversion of the 22 schools and will open up enrollment to the entire county once parents decide.

Approximately 42,000 students are expected to attend a year-round school next year. Including the 22 schools slated to go year-round, 52 schools will be on a year-round schedule.

"The order no where -- no where --indicates that (Manning) has asked us to not convert schools, no where does it indicate we have to have a certain number of parents who agree to it to convert schools," said school board member Lori Millberg.

Manning's ruling affects about 30,500 students -- not only the 20,000 at the 22 conversion schools, the rest applied or volunteered to attend year-round or modified year-round schools.

WakeCares, a parents' group that sued to block the conversion of schools to mandatory year-round schedules, claimed Manning's decision a victory for families on Thursday.

After the school board's decision Friday, members said they were disappointed, saying the move violated the spirit of Manning's order.

"We had hoped that they would be more responsive to all citizens, but it appears they're just going forward with their original plan," said WakeCares cofounder Kathleen Brennan.

But some parents who have been affected by the mandatory year-round school debate expressed relief about the school board's decision.

"People have made life decisions based upon the fact that we were converting to year-round," said Trish Adamkowski, who has spent the past seven months preparing her children for a year-round schedule at Pleasant Union Elementary School.

Although she is not a proponent of year-round schedules, Adamkowski said the uncertainty was causing problems and she is relieved the school board has a new plan.

"I'm happy that there is a decision and that the plans we've worked hard on for the last seven months can continue on," she said. "And we'll see what the future holds."


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  • nrsnan May 8, 2007

    It's absolutely amazing to read some of the posts on here. Even 50 years ago, across many states, parents had the BOE assigning schools to their home address. This is nothing new. Choices were not there for those families...but now because of necessary change, they cry " we want choice!" They want to have a list of schools to choose from and some sort of guarantee that their children will get in it! Folks, that is just not reality. Can you imagine the chaos? Well, you have choice now, thanks to Judge Manning, between YR and traditional, that is it. Not, ok I want trad, this particular school, and YOU bus my child, oh and wait, I want "Ms Smith" to be my child's teacher. Nothing less will do!"

  • coolmusicmom May 6, 2007

    I left Wake County three years ago to escape what I saw was coming! BOE would have had less resistance to this change if they would have promised families that their children could be on the same track! I also want to know if the education lottery is funding this court battle or going towards all the new buildings we need! I have moved on to Johnston County and the overcrowding from Wake is trickling this way! I hope and pray Johnston County is learning from Wake County's mistake and not repeat them!

  • Not_So_Dumb May 6, 2007

    refiman - Recalls are not supported in NC, I don't believe. Could be wrong, but I know that there are some positions which are not. I want my County Commissioner recalled and I was told on good authority that there was no law to allow for that to happen.

  • poohperson2000 May 6, 2007

    I was cut off..

    I realize most people with multiple kids needed track 4 more than me.

  • poohperson2000 May 6, 2007

    I hear your points of view but still do not GET it. Which is fine. I think everyoen needs to do their own soul searching and find the answer for their family given the CURRENT options. For those of you that feel something is being rammed down your throats, I think you should think long and hard, what is best for your kids at this point. I personally am sick of the uncertainty and think things for THIS year should roll forward as is. IF they switch back to traditional next year, I will deal with it, but I can not stand not knowing what I need to do to accomodate my childs schedule.

    I do think all kids with HS or traditional MS should have been given track 4, perhaps that would have eased the pain. I wanted track 4 because my husband is in the National Guard, and they usually do their yearly 2 weeks of training in the summer. WOuld have made my life easier if my kid was not in school during that time. I did not appeal the track assignment because I realize most people with multiple ki

  • Just weighing in May 6, 2007

    Does anyone think the teachers are getting some kind of bonus if their school goes year round??

  • refiman May 6, 2007


  • LLL May 6, 2007

    Why is the BOE appealing if they only have to tag them as VYR and give the option of traditional cities away, they know that no-one would choose an unknown traditional. It is just back-door bullying consistent with the way they operate. I am cetain that the enrollment has gone down due to folks pulling their children out for private and home-schooling. I am sure more plan to move away. Like I said earlier, it wasn't so much the MYR but having all the schools on different calenders so the family would be torn apart. We were told of our school's decision in Feb, after the viable private schools already closed enrollment. I am sure this was to trap us and eliminate our choices. I still do not understand how having your family torn apart is trivial to some YR supporters...makes me wonder!

  • Silent Majority May 6, 2007

    Why is it that the new schools opening as MYR the first year are then tagged VYR afterwards? Is it because once families try YR they love it and don't want to change? All elementary and middle schools need to go YR. They say it's too expensive to make the HS go YR. I say not enough study has gone into it. HS's could go modified YR.

  • teach4er May 6, 2007

    youwill- I disagree with you. They wanted voluntary year-rounds and got them. Now they are still not satisfied, even after seeing that the majority of parents were not happy with the judge's decision. They've made their point, and now they need to work with the School Board instead of against.

    Yes, we did elect the Board, and perhaps it is time to have at-large candidates who represent the entire county rather than select communities.