Local News

School board weighs costs of year-round, traditional schools

Posted April 29, 2008

— School board members are trying to put a dollar figure on the overcrowded school situation in Wake County.

The school board’s Facilities Committee and administrators on Tuesday discussed a building plan that could be used in planning for a bond referendum next year.

The plan will help board members compare the cost of building traditional-calendar schools with those that would operate on a year-round schedule. The plan is also looking at the cost to reduce the number of students in mobile classrooms.

The Wake County Public School System's estimated 130,000 students could grow by 10,000 next year. In response to growth, the district converted 22 schools to year-round schools.

Last year, many year-round schools were below capacity because hundreds of parents opted to stay in traditional-calendar schools.

Some board members said it is time to revisit whether new schools should open as year-round.

School Board member Ron Margiotta believes it's time to rethink year-round schools before asking voters for more money.

“The bond referendum will never be approved unless we change the mindset and change the way it’s proposed to the public,” Margiotta said.

Several school board members said the request doesn't mean the board is backing off the year-round approach. The board wants to know all options before making long-term building decisions, they said.

One estimate is that it could take as much as $350 million to meet the district's goal of reducing the number of students in mobile classrooms.

School administrators have said year-round schools are necessary to help the system manage its booming student population. They accommodate about 25 percent more students than a traditional school because one-quarter of the student body is always on break.

In February, Wake County officials said they wanted to take another look at the school district's plan to operate all new elementary and middle schools on year-round schedules and to convert some existing schools from a traditional calendar to year-round.

The subject of year-round schools in Wake County has been in contention, with a lawsuit filed to keep year-round schools voluntary.

45 Comments

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  • methinkthis Apr 30, 12:53 p.m.

    Things change over time. The old ways have to change. Pt 1 -When we had a predominantly agrarian society we structured a school year that allowed students to participate in the agriculture during the growing season. This need affects a small part of the population now. Pt 2 - Over time our cost structures change also. Schools did not cost as much. Now we have embellished education with a lot of nice-to-haves, before we seemed to have built a great country while focusing on the basic fundamentals. Adding the nice-to-haves is OK as long as the budget can afford them. Pt 3 - The demographics are changing. Boomers are increasing the number of kids-through-school population. People are 'retiring' to fixed incomes, often not protected by cost of living increases. Result: if you want the nice-to-haves, you must change the way you do things to maximize the use of the resources. A new paradigm is needed. One aspect of that new paradigm is YEAR ROUND SCHOOLS. In my view, not an option, a must.

  • boys-of-summer Apr 30, 11:32 a.m.

    I would like to know which YR schools are not full. I have tried for three years to get my daughter into the assigned YR school, and yet each year we get the standard form letter that there were more applicants than available seats. We live within 10 minutes of three YR elem. schools and yet we can only apply to one and still are not able to get in to it.

  • readme Apr 30, 11:14 a.m.

    I really don't care if my kid goes to YR or traditional. But I do care that he goes to the closest school to my neighborhood. This saves my valuable tax dollars in gas versus bussing him, and it saves me time. It also ensures that if I pay extra to live in a nice neighborhood, my kid goes to a school with like-minded people that value education, because I know that whether you admit it or not, studies prove he will learn less with lower-income classmates. I don't think this is an immigration issue, but since you brought it up, I don't think my hard earned tax $$ should go to educating an illegal alien. And I don't think just becase they rent and pay sales tax they are entitled to it! Thanks,

  • poohperson2000 Apr 30, 11:10 a.m.

    TheAdmiral

    No Admiral it is based on income.. They just happen to go hand in hand sometimes.

  • poohperson2000 Apr 30, 11:09 a.m.

    I do spend time in my child school and speaking with the staff at various levels. I have heard no complaints about year round, most openly admit they like the smaller more frequent breaks. Happier teachers= better learning. I would like to see the math on the additional costs of running a YR school versus the costs of building new schools. Facts- YR holds 25% more kids. The YR schools are currently not at capacity because they had to offer the option of traditional. If we can get NC thinking right and get rid of the antiquated laws and make all middle and elemetary schools YR then we will be able to experience the savings of not building new schools constantly. Again, taxpayers have the right to expect the lowest cost solutions to be implemented, and if they ALL went YR we would have enough seats and then some to accomodate future growth.

  • TheAdmiral Apr 30, 10:52 a.m.

    I am frustrated because kids who live next door to the school get bussed nearly 3 hours away for socio-economic diversity. I don't care who you are but the socio-economic diversity the schools pitch is based on race.

    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A bitterly divided U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday issued what is likely to be a landmark opinion -- ruling that race cannot be a factor in the assignment of children to public schools.

    The court struck down public school choice plans in Seattle, Washington, and Louisville, Kentucky, concluding they relied on an unconstitutional use of racial criteria, with the 5-4 vote reflecting the deep legal and social divide over the issue of race and education.

    Similar plans already in place or being proposed across the country could be in danger as a result of the ruling, which would sharply limit the power of local governments to achieve diversity using race-based criteria.

    A conservative majority led by Chief Justice John Roberts said other means besides ra

  • luvbailey Apr 30, 10:48 a.m.

    TheAdmiral, if it takes offending you in order to get you thinking on this issue, so be it. Not being familiar with Plyler v Doe, I did a quick search on Google and learned enough in 2 minutes to laughingly refute "The supreme court did not state that illegal aliens did not have to pay for their education out of pocket." The court said that government bodies could not adopt any policy which would impede any illegal child's access to public education. Obviously such a payment system would violate this.

    And what of the legal children whose parents own no property (and pay no property tax), who have low income jobs (and pay no income tax). All they pay is sales tax - which the illegals also pay. So should we charge the poor but legal children also??

    As to what your children are learing that you feel they neeed to "unlearn", well they must not be in Wake County schools because in Wake County they are certainly learning reading, math, science and most importantly, critical thinking.

  • TheAdmiral Apr 30, 10:14 a.m.

    luvbailey -

    Every day I have to have the kids unlearn what they have learned and work together as a group. They are teaching everything else other than how to read, comprehend, do the math - they are teaching them that perversion and the sense of self prevails over all.

    I see it every day.

  • TheAdmiral Apr 30, 10:12 a.m.

    "One of the biggest impediments to children learning is their desire to learn."

    Not to mention the teachers desire to teach.

    "Comments such as charging illegals extra money just show ignorance on the issues."

    I beg your pardon and I take offense to this. In 1982, the court ruled in a Texas case, Plyler Vs. Doe, that all children have a constitutional right to a public education, regardless of their immigration status.

    The supreme court did not state that illegal aliens did not have to pay for their education out of pocket.

    So that your arrogance and YOUR ignorance and hit the road.

  • luvbailey Apr 30, 9:57 a.m.

    I usually like to add a word of humor to these topics, but this is serious stuff. Based upon most of the negative comments posted here on this topic, I am certain that the "posters" haven't a clue about the underlying reasons of why schools operate they way they do. If they would get seriously involved in volunteering to help out in schools, or have conversations with a number of teachers, they might better understand the issues. Comments such as charging illegals extra money just show ignorance on the issues. Yes, any organization, public or private, can be improved and made to run more efficiently. I just wish people would quit beating up on our schools when, for the most part, they don't know what they are talking about.

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