Local News

Year-Round School Uncertainty Leaves Camps in Limbo

Posted May 11, 2007 6:02 p.m. EDT
Updated May 11, 2007 7:21 p.m. EDT

— The uncertainty over year-round school assignments is also affecting summer camps and programs catering to year-round students during their breaks from school.

The Wake County school system is sending consent letters to the families of about 32,000 students slated for year-round assignments in the 2007-08 school year after a judge ruled last week that the district can't force students to attend a year-round school without parental consent.

The judge's order was the result of a lawsuit filed by a group of parents who wanted to block the district's plan to convert 19 elementary schools and three middle schools from traditional calendars to year-round schedules. The school district said the conversions are needed to create enough classroom space for an expected 8,000 new students, but the families said the new schedule would disrupt their lives.

The district won't know for a couple of weeks how many families are opting for year-round school, and until the issue is settled, many camps can't gauge how many children they will have.

"We are on hold," said Tom Maynard, director of Garner's Parks and Recreation Department.

Garner planned to host camps for students that were "tracked out" of year-round school, beginning this fall. But the program has been scrapped because of the uncertainty.

"We just decided we couldn't put the camp program in at this point," Maynard said, adding officials hope to launch the program next year. "We worked a long time. Am I disappointed? Yeah."

Parents also are disappointed.

"What we counted on is now a maybe," said parent Gary Butler, whose son was excited about attending the Garner track-out camp. "It's going to put me on hold again. It puts my family on hold again."

The YMCA runs more track-out camps in Wake County than anyone, so it has more flexibility to roll with shifts in the number of students attending year-round school, said Marco Ramirez, director of youth programs.

"Much like the rest of the county, we're waiting to see whether these parents will choose traditional or year-round," Ramirez said.