The schools may be year-round, but you still have to stop and end a year somewhere. For some schools, tomorrow, in the heat of July, is as good a spot as any.
Garner’s four year-round schools will end their truncated summer breaks and start their 2014-15 school year Monday. The schools will take a head start on traditional schools – and in a few cases, possibly catching newcomers and their parents off guard.
North Garner Middle School, for example, is the designated middle school for a majority of Garner. While most families are familiar with Wake County Public Schools and know about the year-round schedule variances, newcomers from out of county or out of state don’t always know to look for the start of school this early.
“People that are moving into the area from out of town or up north where maybe school doesn’t start until after Labor Day, and they think that maybe as long as we move by the end of august we’re OK,” North Garner principal Greg Butler said.
Butler did add that WCPSS does a good job of publicizing the schedules to keep parents informed. But he also said the school does see an influx of students until traditional schools got going. And many Garner residences, if parents are too late or simply don’t want their kids in a year-round school, are zoned for Dillard Drive in Cary as their default traditional-calendar school.
Much of East Garner Middle’s territory extends east and southeast all the way to the Johnston County line as well as north and northeast into the outskirts of southeast Raleigh.
Similar issues of late entry apply to Garner’s three year-round elementary schools: Vance, Rand Road and Timber Drive. Like North Garner, they are Track 4 only. Multi-track schools have different schedules for their different tracks, with different students and teachers “tracked out” on break at different times.
Vance principal Sarah Simmons also said parents from outside the area could be caught off guard. Another issue that affects year-round schools first: efforts to figure out how many teachers will be needed before school starts. But Simmons said that even though they wade into that pool first, the water is the same for all schools.
“Everyone’s worried about that 10-day head count, making sure it matches up to projections and our crystal ball. That everybody’s job is safe, that’s our biggest worry,” Simmons said. “The worst case scenario is you’ve over-hired.”
If after 10 days of school a school has over-hired, classes might be canceled with teachers transferred to other schools and students moved to other classes.
“It’s easier to expand than contract,” Butler said.
But both Butler and Simmons said WCPSS projections prove fairly accurate most years.
Butler and Simmons expressed excitement for the start of the new year. Both principals said they’ve seen last year’s test scores – the second year of new, more stringent tests – and said their schools saw improvements.
Butler, meanwhile, faces a new challenge most educators won’t. His oldest daughter will start sixth grade at North Garner this year.
“I’ve told them, my child is just another child. From my perspective, every classroom has to be good enough for my child,” Butler said. “I told her teachers if you have a problem with her contact her mother.”