Year-Round School Begins Monday For Some Wake County Students
Posted July 10, 2006 1:49 a.m. EDT
RALEIGH, N.C. — Summer is far from over, but school is back in session in Wake County.
More than 14,000 students across the county will head back to class on Monday on a year-round school calendar.
Five new elementary schools will open for the first time on the nontraditional schedule, boosting the number of year-round schools in the county to 20 -- 16 elementary school and four middle schools.
Many Wake County parents have opposed converting more schools to a year-round schedule, arguing that it shortens summer breaks and causes scheduling conflicts when children are enrolled in schools on different schedules.
But some parents said Sunday that they are optimistic about the new schedule.
"I don't know why it upsets people so much," said Beth Graff, whose son, Sean, starts kindergarten at Carpenter Elementary School in Cary. "If you sit down and actually think about it, it's really not a bad idea."
"They're in school for nine weeks; they get a three-week break," Graff said. "That way, they don't spend the summer unlearning everything that they learned."
Last school year, an estimated 120,000 students were enrolled in the Wake County Public School System. School officials expect at least another 6,000 this school year. If the school population continues to grow at its current rate, Wake County forecasts 172,000 public-school students by 2015.
School leaders argue that more year-round schools are necessary to help accommodate the flood of new students moving into Wake County.
"The parents and students get used to it," said Carpenter Elementary principal Vickie Brown. "They like those regular breaks throughout the year. They're excited about it."
Besides Carpenter Elementary, Barwell Road Elementary, Brier Creek Elementary and River Bend Elementary in Raleigh and Holly Grove Elementary in Holly Springs go to the new schedule on Monday.
Students on a traditional schedule return to school on Aug. 25 and those on a modified schedule return to class on July 26.
If the year-round expansion is successful at those schools, some school leaders believe it could help ease tensions when the district unveils plans to convert as many as 20 to 30 schools for the 2007-2008 school year.
Wake County leaders are expected to set criteria this month to determine which schools will be converted. A final decision could come in August.
"I don't feel any added pressure. The pressure I feel is to make sure all children are happy and learning," Brown said. "And that can happen no matter what calendar you're on. This is a calendar change not an instructional change."