Blog: Wake school board sees year-round survey results

Wake County school board members on Tuesday saw preliminary results from a survey that asked parents whether they prefer traditional or year-round schools.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Wake County Board of Education members on Tuesday get to see preliminary results from a parent survey gauging attitudes on year-round schools. The school system received about 41,000 responses to the survey.

Last month, the board voted on a resolution to end mandatory assignment to year-round schools beginning with the 2010-2011 school year and to allow parents to choose whether their child attends a school with a year-round or traditional calendar.

Two years ago, the district converted 22 elementary and middle schools to mandatory year-round schedules (the board overturned that policy at a meeting in December.)

At the time, administrators defended the controversial moves by saying it would help the district keep up with enrollment growth and save money on school construction since year-round schools can accommodate more students than traditional-calendar schools.

The following are updates from the Wake County Board of Education's public meeting, which started at 3 p.m.
5:30 p.m. – The board goes into closed session, concluding the public portion of the school board meeting.
5:24 p.m. – The board is considering adding additional days to the year-round 2010-2011 school calendar to meet state law requiring 180 days of instruction. There was an error in the school calendar approved March 17, 2009. It would add one additional day to Track 1 and take away one day from Track 4. The board approves the change.
5:10 p.m. – The board considers an amendment to the contract for legal services. The amendment, to a July 1, 2009, contract is for an additional $24,000 for legal services related to real estate matters. Some newly elected board members, not familiar with the contract, want more time to consider the amendment. Board member Kevin Hill puts forth a motion to approve it with an amended amount of $10,000. It is approved unanimously.
5 p.m. – The board moves into action items on the agenda. First up, renaming the Cary High School gym in honor of Charles Adams, a star athlete at the high school during the 1950s who taught and coached basketball there during the 1960s and served on with the North Carolina High School Athletic Association. The board unanimously approves.

Up next, changes to the school calendar application resulting from the school board's decision to end mandatory year-round school assignments. Board members say they don't feel comfortable voting at this time.

Board member Debra Goldman puts forth a motion to table the decision until after public comment and after board members evaluate the results of the parent survey results. The board unanimously approves.

Assistant Superintendent Chuck Dulaney expresses some concern about possibly extending the application period because of planning for the upcoming school year.

4 p.m. – The board hears from the public.
3:43 p.m. – The board goes into closed session until 4 p.m., when it will resume for public comment.
3:20 p.m. – Board hears an update on the school system's revenue stream for the 2010-2011 year. The superintendent's proposed budget will include a $20 million reduction in central services that will significantly affect schools. It assumes there will be no changes to funding.

Central service reductions include the elimination of vacant positions – which have been vacant since 2008. The temporary loss of support will become permanent. There will also be significant reductions in non-personnel services, meaning services would be eliminated and response times will go up. There will also be 75 to 100 filled positions eliminated.

If changes are made by the state, necessary adjustments will be made to the superintendent's budget.

The county is dealing with an $18 million gap in its budget. The superintendent's budget assumes no change in county funding.

Right now, the school system does not anticipate any current mid-year reductions in its budget.

3:08 p.m. – After a short break, the board resumes for its public meeting.

Board chair Ron Margiotta jokes that makeup days from the weekend's snow is probably "the most controversial issue" on the agenda. Makeup days are as follows:

  • Traditional calendar: Monday, Feb. 15 and Thursday, June 10
  • Modified calendar: Monday, Feb. 15 and Monday, Mar. 8
  • Wake early college: Monday, Feb. 15 and Thursday, April 1
  • Year-round calendar: Saturday, Feb. 6 and Saturday, May 1
The following are updates from the Wake County Board of Education's committee-as-a-whole meeting, which started at 1 p.m.
2 p.m. – The board is now hearing an update on the financial picture for Wake County and the Wake County Public School System and what that means for projects.
1 p.m. – The results of the survey are available online. David Holdzkom, assistant superintendent for Evaluation and Research, is presenting.
The parents of all students currently enrolled in grades K-12 were surveyed, as well as all school staff. Read the questions parents were asked.

The board received 39,611 responses after 774 responses were removed after being identified as duplicates and 959 removed because they had invalid student ID numbers.

Twenty-eight percent of the district responded to the survey over a 10-day period. About 68 percent of respondents were white. Nearly 15 percent were black. Hispanic participants made up 5.7 percent.

Of those responding, 825 respondents (2.1 percent) have students on a modified calendar, 17,936 (45.3 percent) are on a traditional calendar and 20,850 (52.6 percent) are on a year-round calendar.

The results are preliminary and the school board is only hearing the results, not analysis of them. The responses to some of the questions include (see full results):
Question 2: How satisfied are you with this child's school without regard to the calendar?
  • 58.8 percent – very satisfied
  • 35.7 percent – satisfied
  • 4.1 percent – dissatisfied
  • 1.1 percent – very dissatisfied
  • 0.3 percent – no response
Question 3: How satisfied are you with your experience so far with the calendar for this school?
  • 58.76 percent – very satisfied
  • 29.99 percent – satisfied
  • 6.85 percent – dissatisfied
  • 4.07 percent – very dissatisfied
  • 0.33 percent – no reponse
Question 6: Between these two types of calendars, which do you prefer for this child?
  • 48.80 percent – traditional
  • 44.75 percent – year-round
  • 6.17 percent – no preference
  • 0.29 percent – no response
Question 7: Would you still desire a year-round calendar for this child if he/she could not have the track that you wanted?
  • 40.18 percent – yes
  • 21.88 percent – no
  • 36.48 percent – do not want
  • 1.46 percent – no response
Question 12: Assuming that your child were to stay at his/her current school, would you still prefer that the school keep the same calendar or change to another type?
  • 80.90 percent – keep
  • 18.04 percent – change
  • 1.06 percent – no response
Question 13: If your child’s school converted to a calendar different from the one has, how likely would you be to try to move your child to another school?
  • 27.87 percent – very likely
  • 18.83 percent – likely
  • 29.61 – unlikely
  • 22.90 percent – very unlikely
  • 0.80 percent – no response

Some results from the staff survey (there were 8,839 respondents):

How important is the school calendar type in your decision about where to work?
  • 49.03 percent – very important
  • 36.59 percent – important
  • 12.53 percent – unimportant
  • 1.85 percent – very unimportant

Assuming that you continue to work at your current school, would you prefer that the school keep the same calendar or change to another type?

  • 78.96 percent – keep calendar
  • 21.04 percent – change calendar
If your school converted to a different calendar, how likely would you be to try to get a job at another school?
  • 19.62 percent – very likely
  • 20.94 percent – likely
  • 35.82 percent – unlikely
  • 23.61 percent – very unlikely

Board member Keith Sutton wants to change the site of one of the four community forums to an economically disadvantaged area.

He is also asking for a fifth community meeting to be added, saying fewer people in low-income areas took the survey. They want to see if a school is available for Feb. 11.

Those hearings are currently scheduled as follows:

  • Tuesday, Feb. 9 at Holly Springs High School, 5329 Cass Holt Road, Holly Springs
  • Thursday, Feb. 18 at Heritage High School, 1150 Forestville Road, Wake Forest
  • Tuesday, Feb. 23 at Leesville Road High School, 8409 Leesville Road, Raleigh
  • Thursday, Feb. 25 at Panther Creek High School, 6770 McCrimmon Parkway, Cary

Each meeting runs from 6:30 p.m. until 9 p.m. in the schools' auditoriums.

Board Chairman Ron Margiotta wants a minimum of five school board members at the public hearings.