Parents voice concerns over Raleigh school's calendar conversion
Posted November 17, 2008 5:26 p.m. EST
Updated November 18, 2008 11:59 a.m. EST
Raleigh, N.C. — Parents are already voicing concerns over the Wake County school system's draft plan to reassign more than 26,000 students over the next three years.
The school system made its plan public on its Web site last weekend.
Some parents of Leesville Road Middle School students are strongly against converting from a traditional calendar to a year-round schedule. They talked about their concerns Monday evening at public meeting held at the school.
“It is disruptive to families. It is disruptive to communities,” parent Richard Borris said.
School system leaders say year-round calendars will be a money-saver by helping reduce the need to build more schools.
"This is a situation which is immediately cost-effective and doable in a very quick way that other kinds of solutions aren't,” said Chuck Delaney, assistant superintendent of the Wake County Public School System.
Those with children at other schools could be particularly affected, with children on different schedules in the same household.
"What happened to keeping families together?” parent Lisa Boneham asked at the meeting.
Delaney said a move to a year-round schedule would open up 300 more spots at Leesville Road Middle – a campus already using more than 40 mobile classrooms.
"We need to generate space,” Delaney told the parents.
There are also parents who are for the conversion.
"I find it works really well for my family,” parent Heather Firm said.
Some of the parents have joined BiggerPicture4Wake to support the plan.
"It should, in the long run, reduce reassignments because we will be able to increase capacity and that will give them some wiggle room and flexibility. So when we get more students, we will have room for them,” Marguerite LeBlanc, spokesperson for BiggerPicture4Wake, said.
The school board will make a final decision of on the Leesville Road Middle calender in February.
About the reassignment plan
The school district's reassignment proposal, released Saturday, is an attempt to plan for the first time for population growth and movement more than a year in advance.
For 2008-2009, the first year of the plan, 8,162 students would be reassigned. Three new elementary schools will open up in eastern and southern Wake County, necessitating moving younger students in those areas.
Middle and high schoolers will also be moved in western Wake to relieve overcrowding, particularly in Cary.
The plan calls for the greatest number of students – 14,200 – to be reassigned in 2009-2010, when two high schools, two middle schools and one elementary school open. Most students moved will be in northern, western and southern Wake that year.
In 2010-2011, 4,409 students will be reassigned, as an elementary school and middle school open in northern and southeastern Wake.
The Wake County Board of Education will determine which reassigned students are eligible for grandfathering, allowing them to stay at their current schools. In the past, students have been required to provide their own transportation to school if they did not move.
The second and third years of the draft assume that the 10 schools will open as planned. However, their construction is dependent on capital funding and enrollment growth.
Overall, the number of students reassigned is comparable to those moved in the past three one-year plans.
How the plan was formed
More than 100 parents and educators met and discussed reassignment options for over 5,000 total person-hours. School system officials said they kept in mind the concerns that emerged from those planning sessions.
Of paramount importance was keeping the same students together through elementary, middle and high school.
Officials said they also considered schools' socioeconomic balance, the distance students would be bussed and the state's magnet-school policy.
Taking into account public feedback, WCPSS staff will make their recommendations to the county Board of Education by Dec. 16.
The school board will hold a new round of public meetings and finalize the plan by or on Feb. 3, 2009.
The public meetings, each beginning at 6:30 p.m., are as follows:
- Nov. 20 – Knightdale High, 100 Bryan Chalk Lane in Knightdale
- Dec. 1 – Cary High, 638 Walnut St. in Cary
- Dec. 3 – Wake Forest-Rolesville High, 420 W. Stadium Drive in Wake Forest
- Dec. 4 – Holly Springs High, 5329 Cass Holt Road in Holly Springs
- Dec. 8 – Broughton High, 723 St. Mary's St. in Raleigh
Mailings will then be sent out to the parents of affected students, who will know their final assignments by mid-May of next year.