Bob Lawler likes the single-track year-round calendar at Highcroft Elementary.
In a meeting at the Cary school on Thursday, he was one of several parents who told Wake County district planners that he doesn’t understand why they might switch Highcroft to a traditional schedule in 2016.
The schedule, with nine weeks on and three weeks off, prevents his two children from burnout, Lawler said. And switching to a traditional calendar won’t necessarily reduce school crowding.
“But, if my wife were here, she’d tell me to shut up,” he said. “She likes traditional.”
More than 100 parents attended a meeting to discuss the merits of switching the school’s calendar.
Highcroft is one of three schools – including Salem Elementary and Salem Middle in Apex – that the school system may convert to a traditional schedule starting in the 2016-17 school year.
School district administrators say they’re considering the conversions because traditional calendars seem more popular than year-round in parts of western Wake. It also would reduce crowding and would align neighboring schools on the same calendars.
School officials will have a community forum Wednesday, June 10, at Salem Middle School to address the Salem proposal.
Families from all three schools can ask questions and offer feedback online.
Lawler’s household disagreement represents a dispute among many parents at Highcroft.
School district administrators say they’ve received many comments online and in person from parents on both sides of the issue. They’ve declined to say which opinions they’ve heard most.
Highcroft is at almost 140 percent capacity, school officials say. There are 998 students but the campus was designed to hold 715, according to school officials.
In Highcroft’s case, a conversion to traditional would align the school’s calendar with the schedule at Mills Park Middle School, which Highcroft feeds into.
That’s one reason Lawler’s wife wants to switch, he said. The couple has students in first and third grade at Highcroft, and she doesn’t want there to be a calendar mismatch when one goes to Mills Park, he said.
“In the end, I’ll probably side with her,” Lawler said after the meeting.
But parents who support the status quo were the most vocal at Thursday’s meeting.
Parents sat at eight-seat tables and wrote the pros and cons of each type of calendar on sticky notes. Parents at each table were then given the chance to speak about their preferences.
Shelia Reich, who has a kindergartner at Highcroft, suggested parents who want a traditional calendar transfer to White Oak Elementary when it opens in 2016. White Oak, located four miles from Highcroft, will open on a traditional calendar in 2016 with 780 students.
“There’s no need to change when there’s a natural solution that’s pending,” Reich said.
White Oak is expected to reduce crowding at Highcroft. Sowmya Kasturi, who has a first-grader at the school, said she worries that Highcroft will remain just as crowded if it switches to a traditional calendar.
“We love the school. We don’t want to change the school,” Kasturi said.
Susan Dwyer, who has a second-grader at Highcroft, said the single-track year-round calendar better suits her family’s travel needs. She said her husband is from Belfast, Northern Ireland.
“It’s a lot cheaper to travel in the off-season,” Dwyer said.
The school has a history of switching calendars.
Highcroft initially operated on the traditional calendar until it was among the 19 elementary schools that were converted to multi-track year-round in the 2007-08 school year as a way to save on capital costs.
The district switched Highcroft to single track in the 2011-12 school year as a way to save on operating costs.
Administrators plan to make a calendar recommendation to the school board on June 16, and the board is expected to vote on July 21.
Have your say
Highcroft Elementary families can provide feedback at http://bit.ly/highcroftcalendar.
An information session for Salem Elementary and Salem Middle school families is Wednesday, June 10, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Salem Middle School, 6150 Old Jenks Road, Apex. Parents can provide feedback at http://bit.ly/SalemMiddle.
According to the school system, both Salem Elementary and Middle are under-enrolled. Salem Elementary has a capacity of 779 but has an enrollment of 605 students are enrolled, making it at 77.7% of its capacity.
Salem Middle has a planned capacity of 1,253 but has 1,141 students enrolled for a 91.1% utilization rate.