Local News

Wake School Board Decides to Consider New Bond Referendum

Posted February 1, 2007 5:26 p.m. EST
Updated February 1, 2007 9:07 p.m. EST

— The Wake County Board of Education on Thursday decided to consider a 2007 school construction referendum to allow the system to return to a voluntary year-round calendar.

Members want to know more about the implications before making a final decision.

Earlier this week, the Wake County Board of Commissioners officially asked the school board to expedite another multimillion-dollar bond to this fall.

"They provided us an opportunity to put the mandatory year-round question to a vote: Is the community willing to provide the additional funds needed to return to our voluntary year round model in the future?" school board Chairwoman Patti Head said.

School staff say a new bond this fall, however, could not provide additional capacity before 2010.

Last November, Wake County voters approved a $970 million bond that would build more schools to help ease the school system's student population. Part of the plan required converting 19 existing elementary schools and three existing elementary and middle schools to mandatory year-round schedules.

Last month, however, the Board of Commissioners withheld more than $3 million that would have been used to transition the schools to a year-round schedule.

The school board also asked commissioners to reconsider that decision when they meet on Monday.

Although some board members say another construction bond so soon is worth exploring, others say voters approved the last bond thinking schools would go year-round. They say they do not think it is fair to abandon that plan.

"Do they in all seriousness want us to abandon future schools as year-round and undertake a thorough study on the costs associated with that?" asked school board member Beverley Clark.

A meeting between the two boards has not been scheduled discuss an expedited bond.

The school board also considered other options to open up and additional 2,400 seats in traditional-calendar schools this fall for parents who are opposed to year-round schools.

Among the options, which the board will vote on Tuesday:

  • Parents of students assigned to year-round schools may apply for seats in a traditional-calendar school during the magnet and calendar application period Feb. 12-28.
  • Parents will have the opportunity to have input in track assignment.
  • Siblings in the same school will be placed on the same track and siblings in year-round elementary and middle schools will be given priority for placement on the same track.

In another move Thursday, the school board also voted to ask the General Assembly to change 1996 legislation that capped the number of charter schools in the state at 100. Wake County has 14 charter schools, more than any other in the state.