Local News

Some Wake year-round schools not filled to capacity

Posted July 9, 2007 5:34 a.m. EDT
Updated April 29, 2008 7:39 p.m. EDT

— School buses started rolling and doors opened Monday at year-round schools in Wake County. However, after a ruling from Superior Court Judge Harold Manning made year-round schools voluntary, at least half of the schools have lower enrollment than projected and are not filled to capacity.

East Garner Elementary is a new school, dealing with a new Wake County problem. The year-round school is one of dozens in the system where parents opted to take their children elsewhere.

"It could be that the parents at the last minute decided, 'You know what? I want to ride this out in the traditional schools,'" said James Overman, principal at East Garner School.

Overman said nearly 140 students requested to leave after a lawsuit filed by a group called WakeCares gave parents the choice to remove their kids from mandatory year-round assignments.

One of East Garner’s third-grade calendars, known as Track 3, was canceled. Other year-rounds have had to juggle similar problems.

Some administrators admit there could be trouble ahead.

"At this point obviously, we're going to have some of our schools that are under enrolled," said Del Burns, superintendent of Wake County Schools.

School board member Rosa Gill expects the system will have to do a better job of educating parents about the benefits of the year-round option.

I don't know that it's going to be a tough sell. Hopefully, the parents will choose to send their kids in the future to year-rounds," she said.

After Manning's ruling, 29 year-round schools in Wake County had 40 or more students opt out. Five of those schools had more than 100 students leave.

Officials said the long-term plan was to have at least 12 new elementary and middle schools built with the latest bond package to be year-round. Now that year-round schools are voluntary, school leaders may be re-thinking those plans.

"Our capital improvement plan, as we move forward, is based on year-round calendars to get the best use of our seats," Burns said. "That was a fiscally responsible act by our Board of Education. It may well have to be re-examined."