Local News

Some Argue Year-Round Schools Could Solve Wake Overcrowding Problems

Posted March 1, 2005 4:54 a.m. EST

— Roughly 10 percent of Wake County schools are year-round right now, but that number could rise in the near future.

Since year-round schools can serve more students, County Commissioner Phil Jeffreys sees it as an answer to all of Wake County Schools' crowding problems. He said he would flip all schools to the year-round schedule.

"Just in the avoidance of having to build as many new schools. I think the best thing about it is it gives school systems time to get caught up," he said.

Cynthia Matson, head of the parent group, Assignment By Choice, said the idea eliminates choice and upsets parents.

"That's one area that Phil and I agree to disagree on," she said. "To force parents into a mandatory year-round situation, I don't want to give them any more control than they already have over us."

Last fall, the school system got a taste of the community opposition. School officials considered converting a list of 30 elementary schools to a year-round schedule to ease overcrowding. It was perceived as being so unpopular that the idea never made it out of committee, even though it cost $20 million less than the current plan to use temporary modular schools.

Whether it is new schools or revisiting the idea of changing existing schools, the school system said year-round is part of the future.

"I don't think we'll see the day that every school is yearround, but I think we'll see the day in the next five years where there will be many, more year-round schools. I think the economy will drive us to that," said Ramey Beavers, of Wake County Schools.

Two new year-round schools -- an elementary and middle school -- are scheduled to open next fall.

Year-round schools can serve 150 to 200 more students than schools on a traditional calendar. Wake County has 15 yearround schools -- 11 are elementary schools, four are middle schools. Nationwide, WRAL found 84 school districts that are entirely year-round.