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Wake School Board Rescinds Student Parking Fee Increase

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RALEIGH, N.C. — High school students in Wake county are claiming a victory Wednesday. School administrators voted to rescind the parking fee increase that many of them complained about. However, the decision means less money for the school system.

The board had made a last-minute decision at a meeting in June that would have increased the cost from $120 to $240. The increase, they said, would have been enough to give coaches and extra-duty staff a pay raise.

High school students rallied Tuesday afternoon against the increase, saying that it was too expensive.

"I understand your need to budget and I think the coaches deserve a raise, but to place the burden on students seems misplaced," Sara McClure, a student at Southeast Raleigh High School, told the school board.

School board members agreed to open up the issue for discussion based on the response at its meeting. Shortly before 6 p.m., they voted to keep the fees at $120.

The school board also discussed a proposed plan to change 15 elementary schools and five middle schools to a mandatory year-round schedule, starting in 2006, to help ease overcrowding. Officials say that by changing the schools to year-round, they can fit about 25 percent more students into classrooms.

"Wake County Public Schools is a growing school district and that is good news that we are growing. We're growing at somewhere between 4,000 and 5,000 additional students every year, so that creates a tension," said Don Haydon, associate superintendent.

Although the school system -- which already has approximately 14,630 students in 11 elementary and four middle schools -- has not yet named the schools that may be affected, critics say they do not want the schedule to be mandatory. They say they want the summer break and they want a choice.

"That's our family," said Betsy Ferrell. "And that's the only time we can do things together as a family."

In some cases, families say daycare is cheaper for traditional calendars. For example, camps with the

Raleigh Parks and Recreation Department

, are $40 a week in the summer, but $115 a week during yearround breaks.

Lee Perry, whose children attend a year-round school, said she can relate. At first, she fought the change, but has since changed her mind.

"Our kids love it, our family has adapted," Perry said. "I think if you give it a try, it can work for most families."

Critics of the plan also say that plenty of parents -- about 2,300 -- are already on a waiting list to enroll their children into year-round schools.


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