RALEIGH, N.C. — Friday was the final day for Wake County parents to return year-round consent forms. School leaders cannot move ahead with any planning until all they all have the consent forms, so they are encouraging all families to fill them out and get them turned in.
Parents' response to a selection form for year-round schools in Wake County has taken some by surprise, but others say acceptance of year-round schools was inevitable, given the unknown alternatives.
School officials say that 80 percent of parents who were sent forms asking if they would consent to year-round school for their children have returned them. Of those, 90 percent agreed, officials said.
“I think that's a good response,” said Chuck Dulaney, assistant superintendent for growth and planning in the school system. It is the response for which Wake school board members hoped.
Dawn Graff is part of a group of parents who filed a lawsuit that forced the district to give parents a choice of school calendars, and she said she is not surprised at the results because the school system made the alternatives so unattractive.
School board member Ron Margiotta echoed her sentiment.
"I think parents had little choice but to accept the year-round (track). They didn't have much choice because they didn't know where they might be going,
The primary issue that opponents cited before the choice letters went home was that parents who picked year-round would know where their children were going to school while those who opted fora traditional calendar will have to wait to find out where their children will be assigned. Officials hope to be able to tell them in June.
Assignments depend the number of children involved.
The school system, which already had some year-round schools, had said it was converting 22 more this year as its only way to accommodate an expected 8,000 more students. Year-round schools can hold 25 percent more students because a quarter of the students are on break at any given time. They attend in cycles of nine weeks in school and three weeks out.
If the response pattern continues, Dulaney said, “then somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 students are asking for traditional calendar assignment.”
School leaders say finding extra traditional seats will require some finagling, but it's “do-able.”