Year-round or not?

Wake administrators need word on new schools

Staff WriterMarch 26, 2008 

— Wake County school administrators working on a long-range student assignment plan want a decision soon on whether new schools will open on a year-round calendar.

On Tuesday, Chuck Dulaney, assistant superintendent for growth and planning, set forth his timetable for developing a multiyear assignment plan. The plan would tell families where students in their neighborhoods will be assigned between 2009 and 2011.

But Dulaney said he needs to know by May whether new elementary and middle schools will run year-round. The school board previously agreed to open new schools on a year-round calendar but could decide to follow the traditional calendar instead because of slower-than-expected growth in enrollment.

"May is just around the corner," school board member Lori Millberg said. "We need to look at the elementary schools opening up and see if any of them are in an area where we need additional traditional-calendar seats."

Year-round schools can hold down the size of bond issues because they accommodate more students than traditional-calendar schools.

Since 2006, all new elementary schools and all but one new middle school have opened on a year-round calendar.

The school board also converted 22 schools to a year-round calendar in July. That led to a lawsuit and a court ruling requiring Wake to get parental permission to send students to year-round schools.

Wake is appealing the ruling.

Rosa Gill, chairwoman of the school board, said she will ask commissioners to discuss the calendars for the new schools at a meeting April 16.

Commissioner Tony Gurley said the school board can decide that issue on its own.

"It's absurd to say they need our permission," he said.

When the calendar issue is resolved, Dulaney said, administrators will be on their way to developing the much-touted multiyear assignment plan.

Wake annually reassigns thousands of students to fill new schools, ease crowding at existing schools and promote diversity.

Parents complain about not knowing year to year whether their children will be reassigned. School officials say a multiyear plan would offer more stability.

(Staff writer Sam LaGrone contributed to this report.)

keung.hui@newsobserver.com or (919) 829-4534

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