Local News

Two schools to shift off year-round schedule

Posted October 7, 2008 12:47 p.m. EDT
Updated October 7, 2008 6:16 p.m. EDT

— The Wake County school board voted Tuesday to convert two elementary schools from year-round calendars to traditional schedules.

Baucom Elementary School in Apex will return to a traditional nine-month school calendar next fall, while Green Hope Elementary School in Cary will make the switch in the 2010-11 school year. The board also voted to convert Leesville Road Middle School in Raleigh the other way, from a traditional to a year-round schedule.

Chuck Dulaney, assistant superintendent for growth and planning, said the schools would still need to go through the annual student reassignment process, in which the board would formally approve their new calendars, but he said it was very unlikely that the board's votes would be reversed in the process.

"We're giving staff direction, so these decisions are pretty final," school board Chairwoman Rosa Gill said.

Lower-than-expected enrollment the past two years caused board members to rethink their 2006 decision to convert 22 elementary and middle schools to year-round schedules to keep up with surging enrollments. Year-round schools can accommodate more students than other schools because they divide students in four groups and use a rotating schedule where three groups are in school and the fourth is on a break.

The district added 6,000 students last year and another 3,700 this fall. Administrators had projected about 8,000 new students last year and about 6,000 for the 2008-09 school year.

Although many families in Apex and Cary fought the initial conversion of their schools to a year-round schedule – a lawsuit filed by a parents group will be heard by the Supreme Court – some parents of Baucom Elementary students said Tuesday they weren't pleased with the decision to switch their school's schedule again.

"I wish the school board would make up their minds," parent Mark Palmer said.

"We kind of got used to the schedule now," parent Althea Sukhramani said.

"I'm mad at the school board," parent Colleen Schmidt said. "I think there are fingers to point and there is fault, and I think we are messing with children."

Gill said parents need to understand district officials are trying to hit a moving target in balancing enrollment projections with school capacities.

"The parents in all of our schools have to realize (that), from time to time, we are going to have to make hard choices," she said. "Growth has slowed a little bit, (but) we still are experiencing growth. We have a little breathing room for capacity right now, but not in all parts of the county."

Parents who want their children to remain in a year-round school will have an option to transfer to a school on that schedule if their school is changing calendars, Gill said.

Not all Baucom Elementary parents were upset with the switch back to a traditional schedule.

"I think it will be good for the school," parent Victoria Schuster said.

The school board also voted Tuesday against converting Salem Elementary School in Apex back to a traditional calendar.