Local News

Wake board voting on changing school calendars, magnet programs

Posted November 3, 2008 1:58 p.m. EST
Updated November 3, 2008 7:32 p.m. EST

— Parents got to speak about changes to schools' calendars and magnet programs during a Wake County Board of Education meeting late Monday afternoon.

In a voice vote, board members gave final approval to switch Leesville Road Middle School in Raleigh from a traditional, nine-month schedule to a year-round schedule, starting next fall.

Before the vote, some Leesville parents said they opposed the change.

"I'm beseeching you to please, please not make a hasty decision," said Lisa Boneham, who founded a parents' group to fight the change. "About half the current staff members are planning to leave if the conversion goes through."

The board was also to vote on implementing a traditional schedule at Baucom Elementary School in Apex next fall and at Green Hope Elementary School in Cary in the 2010-11 school year.

Board members said they needed to make changes to balance student populations. Lower- than-expected enrollment growth has left some traditional schools overcrowded and some year-round schools under-capacity.

Adjustments were also necessary because the economic downturn has reduced financing for future school construction, said Rosa Gill, the board's chairwoman.

"The economy is not going to allow us to continue to build at the rate that we're building," Gill said. "We're trying to look at how we can maintain capacity based on our economy."

Year-round schools can accommodate more students than other schools by using a rotating schedule. Baucom and Green Hope were among 22 elementary and middle schools converted to year-round calendars last year – a move that prompted a parents group to file a lawsuit that will gone to the state Supreme Court.

On Thursday, the school board will also consider giving formal approval to phasing out the magnet program at Daniels Middle School in Raleigh.

The neighborhood around Daniels Middle has improved, lowering the school's poverty concentration, so the school no longer needs special academic programs to entice parents to send their students there, board members said. Staff members also recommended ending the program.

The board voted to do so two weeks ago, but parents, including some who spoke Thursday, have pressured the board to change its decision.

"It's heading back down the path where parents won't choose to go there," parent Susannah Childers said. "Let's build on it, not just eliminate it and throw it away."