Education

Yes, it's that time of (school) year again

Posted August 24, 2014 9:30 p.m. EDT
Updated August 25, 2014 7:29 a.m. EDT

School Bus

— Traditional calendar students across central North Carolina return to school Monday (Cumberland County students start Tuesday) amid changes and uncertainty for public education:

  • School districts statewide are finalizing their 2014-15 budgets due to the late passage of the state budget, which left the Wake County Public School System with a $12.6 million budget shortfall. The reduced funding has already led the state’s largest school district to cut 116 bus routes and 4,000 bus stops, resulting in some students walking farther to and from their stops. Additional programming and staffing cuts may also happen.
  • Wake school leaders are considering a student enrollment plan that would adjust the attendance zones for 63 schools for the 18,000 students the district expects to receive over the next four years. About 3,000 new students are expected for the 2014-15 school year.
  • The district is also working on a five-year strategic plan, which is expected to be ready by December.
  • Teachers and other education professionals received a raise – depending on who you ask – out of the state budget.
  • Monday is also the first day of school for Bert L’Homme as Durham Public Schools superintendent.

One constant remaining from last school year is teacher retention, an ongoing issue Wake County schools Superintendent Jim Merrill addressed during a recent WRAL interview.

“A lot of pats on the back,” he said when asked about what the district is doing to keep teachers. “We try to provide professional development opportunities for them wtihin the schools and outside the schools. But it’s been a tough four or five years for teachers in North Carolina, in particular Wake County, as the data has shown.”

But for now, traffic delays are expected Monday as commuters will once again share the roads with school busses. In Cary, heavy delays are expected near Green Hope High School due to construction.

Wake students will be among the more than 1 million travelling to and from school statewide, according to the state Highway Patrol.

Is your child heading back to, or starting school on Monday? Send us a photo!