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Wake to Mail Year-Round Permission Letters Friday

Posted May 8, 2007

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— Wake County school board members said Tuesday they would mail out permission letters to families of about 32,000 students being considered for year-round school assignments.

The school district planned to convert 19 elementary schools and three middle schools from traditional schedules to year-round calendars in the coming year to accommodate an expected 8,000 new students. A judge threw out that plan last week, however, ruling in a parents' lawsuit that students can't be required to attend a year-round school without parental consent.

In the proposed permission letter, district administrators ask parents to volunteer their children for year-round schools. The letters are being sent to the families of students at all 52 year-round or modified-calendar schools in the county, including the 22 that are slated for conversion.

District officials said they hope to get responses by May 18 so the school board would know by the end of the month how many families opted for traditional schools. However, those who choose traditional schools wouldn't know until at least June 19 where their children would be assigned.

School starts July 9 for three of the four year-round tracks and July 30 for the fourth track.

WakeCares, the parent group that sued the district over the mandatory assignments, has asked school board members to delay the conversions until it knows how many people opt for year-round schools. In a letter dated May 6, the group also said that parents should know what traditional-calendar assignment they might get so they could make an informed decision.

"Unlike the majority of the students in the school system, these 30,500 students are being asked to give consent without having a base assignment," Robert Hunter, the attorney for WakeCares, wrote in the letter. "Not knowing what traditional school a child will be assigned to places an unfair burden on said child and family."

School board member Carole Parker said it would be impossible to tell people where the district might find room in traditional schools to assign new students.

"The problem is that all of our schools are near capacity or are overcrowded. If we had the seats, we wouldn't be doing this to begin with," Parker said. "There's no way we can come out of this pleasing everybody. What we need to do is make sure we're in compliance with the judge's order."

Members of WakeCares again spoke out against the conversion plan at the school board meeting Tuesday afternoon, saying the district isn't complying with the court order.

"One person said to me that it has gone from mandatory year-round to extortion year-round," parent Dawn Graff said.

"How can you ask parents to make an educated decision regarding their children's education when they do not have all options disclosed to them?" parent Kim Wallace asked.

"We as parents ask that you come up with a reasonable plan, not one that uses scare tactics or one that has the potential to scatter families all over Wake County," parent Mari Jane Shaffer said.

WakeCares also wants the school board to wait until the appeal of the judge's ruling is heard before converting the schools.

But parent Chris Decker spoke out in favor of the push to year-round schools, calling himself a member of the "silent majority" that is appalled by tumult caused by WakeCares.

"In a perfect world, we all have choices. But unfortunately, this isn't a perfect world, and we must adjust to changes in our lives," Decker said. "It amazes me that those of us who are so privileged are also so spoiled."

757 Comments

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  • simplicityfamily May 10, 2007

    I grew up in eastern NC. Moved to Raleigh 8 years ago. Native Southerner- 100% for year round.
    Even the worst school in Wake County is better than most in Eastern NC as far as what they have to offer students. While rural E. NC schools have VERY dedicated talented teachers and students, they just don't have the resources to provide the things we have here.
    As a white child, I was bussed into a predominately minority school located in the center of a public housing neighborhood. (our playground backed up to the homes) I learned a lot about a lot of things especially how to get along. I witnessed many instances of unfairness. (I had way more than most of my friends) I am a better person for that, than had I been allowed to attend the neighborhood school I could walk to from my house.

  • SWinslow May 9, 2007

    --finishing last post--

    everyone was involved in football, spring carnival, etc. It's hard to get too excited about spring carnival that is 20 minutes away in Cary when you live downtown.

  • SWinslow May 9, 2007

    >>Shamrock, I get tired of hearing and seeing it too. Thats old and stupid. I guess some people just don't want to leave it alone. This we're better than you additude is everywhere. Has she even apologized for her remark?? I went to get my kids from >>school and I haven't read back to see if she did.

    No, she has been MIA unless she moved over to the newer "Wake Cares Will Still Fight" thread.

    And 58, I completely am with you on keeping antiquated laws about bussing when they are not showing progress. I believe that all children should be in neighborhood schools -- that does promote community pride and in the rural areas where races are mixed because there is only one school, there is less tension. I spent two years in Duplin County at Wallace-Rose Hill, which was the only game in town, and I saw the most actual diversity in that little country town than I ever have in the city schools where people were bussed around. But again, they were all from a small town, everyone was inv

  • rr May 9, 2007

    poohperson,
    Preference was given for families with multiple children on year round schedules so that they could all be on the same track. In my particular elementary school, parents were given a form to list their track preferences in order - having an older child in traditional high school was not asked about for preferential track choices, only if you had another child on a year round schedule. After you were assigned a track, then you could appeal and list your reasons. By then, and the principal even admitted it, track 4 was so full that it left no room for appeals unless a child dropped out of track 4, leaving a vacancy.

  • poohperson2000 May 9, 2007

    rr
    This is a huge misconception. Preference was given to families with multiple kids.

  • rr May 9, 2007

    My biggest problem with the mandatory conversion is this: If families with older children in traditional high school are supposed to be given special consideration in their track choice (and obviously it is Track 4, which most parents chose), then why shouldn't that have been considered when we had to choose our track choices in order of what we wanted most. There should have been special considerations made then instead of after choices were given out and THEN you could appeal and make it known that you have an older child with a traditional school calendar. My oldest starts high school this fall. My appeal for Track 4 was denied because all spaces for Track 4 were filled before appeals were even considered. I know alot of parents with only one child or even multiple children, all in elementary school, without multiple calendar issues who got Track 4 because it was their first choice. And that wouldn't be that much of an issue if the year round conversion had been voluntary, whi

  • speedy May 9, 2007

    LouieB: 43% is a minority, but I wouldn't call it insignificant.

  • LouieB May 9, 2007

    I agree with Nicsnanni, and I am so glad to hear others say "Wake Cares" does not represent the majority. The Wake Cares group seems to be ignoring the facts. Let's show a little maturity here. The schools are overcrowded! YR is a valid option, and now it is NOT mandatory. Life goes on people!

  • diwanicki May 9, 2007

    Shamrock, I get tired of hearing and seeing it too. Thats old and stupid. I guess some people just don't want to leave it alone. This we're better than you additude is everywhere. Has she even apologized for her remark?? I went to get my kids from school and I haven't read back to see if she did.

  • 581C May 9, 2007

    Then why do we keep holding onto old laws that obviously are not doing what they were intended to do? I think neighborhood schools invoke a feeling of community pride and defintely are easier on parents and students alike travel-wise. The law shouldn't be so static and should allow for change.

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