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Year-Round Schools Debate Heads to State Appeals Court

Posted January 7, 2008

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— The debate over whether year-round schools in Wake County remain voluntary goes before the North Carolina Court of Appeals on Wednesday.

Last May, Superior Court Judge Howard Manning forced the Wake County Board of Education to change its plan to convert 22 elementary and middle schools to a mandatory year-round schedule. He ruled the district must get parental permission before assigning students to them.

School leaders say most year-round schools are under-enrolled because of the ruling, and if the trend continues and if the school board loses its appeal, it could jeopardize their plan for all new elementary and middle schools to go year-round.

After Manning's ruling, 29 year-round schools in Wake County had 40 or more students opt out. Five of those schools had more than 100 students leave.

Hampered by increasing enrollment numbers and their commitment to keeping schools diverse, the majority of Wake County school board members say they will provide choices, but need the authority to assign children to certain schools.

"Year-round schools give us the capacity that we need," school board chairwoman Rosa Gill said. "The statute gives us the right to assign students, and we do give parents options."

The Coalition of Concerned Citizens for African-American Children is asking its supporters to be at the Jan. 9 court hearing to show support for the school board. The board will have "a much more difficult time integrating schools if their right to assign students is diminished," the group said.

The original lawsuit to block the conversion was filed by the Wake County parents' group WakeCARES, which contends that forcing students to switch schedules would be unfair and would disrupt family life.

Members said Monday they are hoping the three-member appeals court panel will agree with Manning's decision to keep year-round voluntary.

"I have faith in the process, and I feel like Judge Manning made a good, strong ruling," group member Kathleen Brennan said.

"I would like to see this whole thing resolved and get our school system on track and moving forward," she added.

80 Comments

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  • momof2 Jan 8, 2008

    I think there is room for both year round and traditional. Year round is great for a lot of families but at the same time they do not work for all families. Some families have kids in both Elem and HS and this "forced YR" can create a hardship. In our area (Leesville) there are 2 year round schools-Brier Creek and Leesville Elem. Both are under capacity. However, Hilburn (traditional) is over capacity. They have added Sycamore as a YR school and will be relocating about 90% of Hilburn to Sycamore. Hilburn will be the base for those who want to stay traditional. What happens if 30% (just a number out of the air) of Hilburn decided to stay at Hilburn--it will still be over capacity and there will now be 3 YR schools under capacity. Let one of the 3 YR's remain traditional and then make it YR once it fills up.

  • iamforjustice Jan 8, 2008

    I appreciate year round schools. It gives us parents a chance to work in peace. I wish my kids would stay in school from 6 am until 12 midnight and when they get home go straight to bed. That would help me out a lot. Plus these kids need to learn. Most American kids are dumb as doorknobs. They also need common sense. I am so tired of stupid kids. I tell kids how dumb they are and they get mad. They don't even know the difference from a caucus and a carcass. Really stupid kids in America.

  • poohperson2000 Jan 8, 2008

    No, but when I am at my son's school I see and hear the things I am portraying.

  • momof2 Jan 8, 2008

    Poohperson---are you on the school board? just curious

  • nativeofwake Jan 8, 2008

    Nope - I have 2 kids. My local school is great. I just chose year-round and that meant a long bus ride to middle school. Lower income parents do care, I think. Many times, the means are not available for them to show it in conventional ways and sometimes the education, knowledge, and role modeling is not there for them - just as in other segments of society. I just don't know of any parent choosing to put their child on a bus for an hour for day care - choosing to have them attend a school that they could not visit because of the distant - choosing to place their child in a school that was so far away that after-school activities are improbable and get togethers with friends are unlikely because of the miles between homes.

  • poohperson2000 Jan 8, 2008

    nativeofwake

    You are on here reading and posting because you care. Allot of the families that live at or below poverty level work hourly jobs, with no set schedule, can not afford childcare, and have multiple children, They will take a break anyway they can get it. If your choice was a bus, or to leave your kids home alone for an hour, which would you choose.

    I may be being somewhat cynical, but for the most part these poorer kids do not have parents that have the time to be involved in their childs eduction. If these kids were not problems in the classroom and came to school well dessed, fed, and ready to learn they would have never been bused to begin with. What is wrong with your local school. Like me you only have one child, so schedule does not really matter.

  • nativeofwake Jan 8, 2008

    poohperson2000 - how cynical! I do not want children out of "my" district because of socio-economic status. I want all children to succeed. I will gladly go into the classroom to give extra time and assitance (and do). I simply feel that busing children across town is not what is best for them or for the community. Of course, I'll let each parent decide on their own what is best for their own child. I certainly don't think that parents view the bus ride as day care. I have one child who is bused about 45 minutes so that he can go to a YR middle school. That is not day care. Have a little compassion and understanding. People are not as ugly as you seem to perceive.

  • poohperson2000 Jan 8, 2008

    nativeofwake

    I see the willingness to pay more for the "poorer" kids as just paying to get them out of your schools. Their parents have voices and can fight busing if they like, but I guarentee most see the long bus ride as daycare they do not have to pay for.

  • poohperson2000 Jan 8, 2008

    nativeofwake

    I am basing most of what I say on the reactions I see on here. I am all for this if it works, but I am skeptical. I do think that you could get some younger teachers to bite at the additional pay for a few years. But after a couple of years of having 25 kids whose parents do not have the time to make sure they do their homework, do not discipline their kids for performing poorly in school and acting up in class. These are all genralizations, but for the mpst part are truthful. People will leave these jobs once they are established and make it to where you are. Then you are talking about high turnover, and the ones who stay are staying just for the paycheck, they have given up on those ideals that drove them to teach to begin with.

  • nativeofwake Jan 8, 2008

    I am very fortunate to now be in the middle, maybe middle/upper class. As a parent and County taxpayer, I am advocating spending more money on lower performing schools - not complaining about it. I have spoken with many of my friends and neighbors and they agree with the thought process that it is better to keep kids (all kids) nearer to their homes and put more resources into those schools that need it. I hope your view of all middle and upper class parents is just jaded. I move in a wide circle here in Wake County and that has not been my experience.

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