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Wake School Board Moves Forward With Year-Round Elementary Schools

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Wake County School Board members voted Friday morning to have staff members come up with a plan that would convert 59 elementary schools to year-round schedules.

The school board's vote means that the staff must devise a detailed plan to make room for 6,000 to 7,000 students in elementary schools for the 2007-2008 school year. This decision would also impact the funding amount requested in a possible November bond issue.

"The board is looking at the bond itself and trying to make certain that there is not an adverse impact on instruction and academic progress of this district and trying to come up with a decision that would lower the cost to the taxpayer," said Wake County Superintendent Bill McNeal.

Under the current proposal, property owners with homes over $150,000 would see a tax increase of around $70.

The plan reduces the length of summer break from 10 to seven weeks for magnet elementary schools, most middle schools and all high schools. Those schools would also have other breaks that roughly match elementary school calendars.

"At a certain point, growth becomes like algae. It chokes out the quality of the environment around it," said school board member Patti Head.

The latest proposal will be officially voted on May 16. Any school board plan would then go to the Wake County Board of Commissioners, which would have to approve it for it to appear before voters on the November ballot.

The board plans to hear concerns from the PTA and a survey of teachers.

The school board also voted Friday that all future elementary schools will be placed on the year-round summer schedule.

The proposal for more year-round schools follows a Raleigh Chamber of Commerce poll last month showing that voters believe school construction bonds are too costly. Residents are not convinced that the resultant tax increases are worth the price.

Only about 40 percent of those surveyed supported the bonds; 66 percent of voters want more year-round schools in order to accommodate more students. Only 23 percent did not approve of them.


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