Local News

Year-Round School Proposal Leaves Some Concerned About Summer Vacations

Posted June 17, 2005 10:53 a.m. EDT

— A proposal by the Wake County School Board to consider mandatory year-round schools for students is not sitting well with some parents fighting to hold onto the traditional summer break.

The school system, which is considering a plan to change about 20 schools to a year-round schedule in 2006, says there are just too many students and not enough space for them. Year-round schools fit one-third more students because of the shifting schedules. If passed, the plan would be mandatory for students who attend those schools.

Even as year-round programs continue to grow in the Triangle and across North Carolina, the change threatens the work Louise Lee's organization, Save Our Summers, established in 2004 with a bill that extends the summer vacation by 5 days.

"This is disappointing and devastating to families who fought so hard last year," Lee said. Lee said she wants people to have a choice between summer and school.

State tourism officials also fought for the extended summer because they want families to visit North Carolina attractions. They do not know how year-round schools may impact tourism. They say it could mean more families take more vacations throughout the year.

In Johnston County, school leaders are studying year-round schools for the same reason Wake County is considering them.

"It is an easy solution when you can't build buildings," said Johnston County School System Asst. Supt. Keith Beamon. "It's a hard solution in terms of the effects it has on your public."

While there are opponents to the idea of year-round schools, the Wake County School System said it has a waiting list of people trying to get their students enrolled.

North Carolina is ranked fifth nationwide for the number of school districts that have year-round schools. At least 99 schools and 54,000 students in 27 school districts learn on a year-round schedule.

Wake County School Board members may vote on the plan at their next meeting in July.