Wake school system leaders are wrestling with a decision about whether to convert nearly a dozen schools to year-round calendars. School board members say, if they hope to make those changes for the next school year, a decision must be made soon to give parents, teachers and others affected by the change time to prepare.
We hope school board members will move in that direction, and to be honest, we wouldn’t be disappointed if they worked to take the year-round model to even more schools.
The original argument in favor of year-round schools still holds water, in our opinion. Year-round schools - if they are run as multi-track schools - can serve more students. That is important in a county like Wake where growing enrollment figures mean an ever-increasing demand for new seats in schools throughout the county.
The news is filled these days with word about plans for the next new school, or shifting student assignment designed to fill new schools. Almost as soon as one county-wide bond referendum is approved by voters, school leaders begin talking about the next one. In fact, money is usually included in a bond to begin planning for the wave of schools that will be constructed with money from the next bond issue.
If Wake County were to moved exclusively to a year-round, multi-track model, it would eliminate problems that currently exist for families that have younger children in a year-round setting and older children in a traditional calendar setting.
Putting the entire county in a year-round model could also help reduce the cost of child care because every child needing care would be on a year-round schedule and the volume of available customers would rise for child care centers who now have just a handful of students who need the varied schedules caused by three-week trackouts.
We realize it would be a radical shift for everyone involved if the entire county were to move to a year-round schedule.
But we also realize that Wake County’s school system has growing financial needs and the resources to meet those needs aren’t growing as quickly as the need. It would take an incredible amount of courage on the part of any school board member to propose such a shift, but they asked voters to put them in a position of leadership for a reason.
It’s good that school board members are considering changes at some schools. It’s a small step toward using the school system’s assets in a wise way.