School calendar suits most parents

The majority at just 3 schools prefer a traditional schedule, a Wake survey finds.

Staff WritersFebruary 3, 2010 

— Although mandatory year-round schools have long been contentious in Wake County, a new school district survey shows most families don't mind the calendar.

Nearly nine out of 10 of all Wake County parents who answered the survey on year-round and traditional-calendar schools are satisfied with their child's schedule, school board members were told at a meeting Tuesday. Only at three of Wake's 51 year-round schools - Leesville Road Middle, Salem Middle and Wakefield Elementary - did a majority say they would prefer the traditional calendar.

Board members will use the nearly 40,000 responses to help decide whether any schools will change calendars for this fall. Administrators will recommend on March 2 which schools to change.

Board members had requested the survey as part of their drive to end mandatory assignments to year-round schools, one of the chief issues in the fall election that led to a new board majority.

After hearing the survey results, board members put off action on a staff plan to move more than 400 students out of seven year-round schools this fall. Assistant Superintendent Chuck Dulaney said the move was necessary to deal with anticipated demand at year-round schools this fall, but several members said they wanted to go through a month of hearings before approving reassignments.

"I feel very strongly that we have an obligation to review all of that information thoroughly and discuss it as a board," member Debra Goldman said.

Dulaney said the postponement will trouble principals and teachers but that the system will continue to accept applications under the current assignment plan until the board makes a decision.

In another presentation, Wake schools budget officials said between 75 and 100 people will likely lose their jobs as a result of the recession. Employees other than teachers, such as maintenance or transportation workers or central office personnel, could lose their jobs.

Growth in enrollment and other new costs will widen the predicted funding gap caused by an anticipated $8 million state budget reduction, a $3.1million bill for employee retirement, $450,000 in teacher pay increases and other costs, said David Neter, the system's chief business officer.

In a public hearing section, some parents and students - including several from Southeast Raleigh High School - made continued pleas not to discard the policy of maintaining economic diversity.

"Are there students who are being underserved or falling through the cracks in Wake County? Yes," said Apex parent Hardin Engelhardt, who said she taught at high-poverty schools in other states. "Is dismantling the diversity policy the solution? No."

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

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