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Wake County To Get More Year-Round Schools -- Just Not Right Away

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Year Round Schools
RALEIGH, N.C. — The Wake County Board of Education backed away from a proposal Tuesday to switch 15 existing elementary and five existing middle schools to a year-round schedule in 2006.

Instead, the school system will try to manage overcrowding by opening three new elementary schools in 2006 with a year-round schedule and one new middle school in 2007 with a year-round calendar.

Year-round schools accommodate about 25 percent more students than traditional calendar schools because year-round schools have multiple tracks. While one group of students is out of school, another group is in school.

Board members and school system staff decided they want more time for community input. Superintendent Bill McNeal said the x-factors are the amount of the next bond proposal and enrollment for the 2005-2006 school year.

"We still believe we need more year-round schools," McNeal said. "We talked about 20. The real question is, is it 20, 40, 50 -- or 15? We only want to go to the community one time."

The school system wants begin to poll parents and begin community engagement meetings right away. McNeal said converting existing schools is still a possibility in 2007 or 2008.

PTA President Virginia Parker said some parents will perceive the decision as a delay tactic. She said, however, they might appreciate more time to participate in the decision-making process.

Other groups that support year-round schools, such as the Coalition of Concerned Citizens for African American Children, do not understand the community resistance to mandatory year-round.

"It's good for students," said coalition member Calla Wright. "It provides structure. I support year-round schools."

A bond proposal is expected between May and November of 2006. In the meantime, school board members said they will get feedback from the community and investigate additional options, such as converting more high schools to a modified year-round schedule.


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