Local News

Year-Round School Foes Challenge Numbers, Threaten Suit

Posted February 15, 2007 7:20 p.m. EST

— The Wake County school board may be facing a lawsuit over its plan for mandatory year-round schools.

The threat comes from a group of mayors and other opponents of the plan who say the data on enrollment shows mandatory year-round schools are unneeded.

“We don't have a shortage of seats. We have a delta of seats,” Dave Duncan of the group Stop Mandatory Year-Round Schools told a news conference Thursday. “Delta” refers to a difference showing more current capacity than the expected number of students.

The Wake County Public School System board has said that expected growth requires converting 19 elementary schools and three middle schools to year-round this fall. The Wake County Commissioners have voted to withhold money for the conversion, after which the school board voted to take money from its reserve fund.

“Right now we have teachers teaching in closets, media centers being used as classrooms, students starting lunch at 10:30. The crisis is very real,” schools spokesman Michael Evans said.

The mayors of Garner and Apex say they're fed up with the school board.

“They’re picking on Garner because it's easy to do,” Mayor Ronnie Williams said.

“We see that that's not representative government, frankly,” Apex Mayor Keith Weatherly said. “Apex is left without any capacity for choice.” He said the town feels it has planned responsibly for growth.

“Nobody wanted mandatory year-round. The growth has been forced upon us,” Evans said.

The group has hired attorneys and said it plans to file legal action soon, believing there is still time to stop mandatory year-round schools.

“We're left with this choice of litigation, unfortunately,” Weatherly said.

The school system said it could not comment on a threat of litigation except to say it is prepared to fight a lawsuit if one is filed.