Wake County school board members tentatively agreed Tuesday to drop a proposal to change the calendars at three year-round schools while telling staff to go ahead with changing the schedules at nine other schools.
Board members said staff should leave Alston Ridge Elementary in Cary and Salem Middle and Salem Elementary in Apex on a multi-track calendar. They said they want to first see if changes to the application process in 2018 lead to more people applying to the two Salem schools, which both have many empty seats.
Administrators want families to once again apply for year-round schools at the same time people apply to magnet schools. Year-round schools, the majority of which have empty seats, would benefit from the marketing that takes place during the magnet application period, officials said.
But board members also told staff Tuesday to change the calendars at Banks Road Elementary near Fuquay-Varina and eight single-track and modified-calendar schools in Eastern Wake and Garner. The school board is scheduled to vote on converting the nine schools on May 2.
School administrators have been reviewing Wake’s various year-round calendars to determine whether to increase the number of traditional-calendar seats.
The majority of Wake’s 159,000 students attend traditional-calendar schools, which open in late August and end by early June. Students have summer breaks of 10 or more weeks.
In year-round schools, the summer vacation is reduced to a month or less, and students have three-week breaks throughout the school year.
At multi-track schools, students are split into four groups, or tracks, that follow their own schedules and can increase a building’s capacity by as much as 33 percent. In single-track schools all the year-round students follow the same schedule.
Wake expanded the number of multi-track year-round schools between 2007 and 2010 by opening new schools and converting some traditional-calendar schools. But when fewer-than-expected students enrolled in Wake schools, the district reduced the number of multi-track schools from 51 in 2010 to 36 this fall.
In February, staff recommended that East Wake and North Garner middle schools and Carver, Lockhart, Rand Road and Vance elementary schools switch to a traditional calendar in 2018. Staff also proposed that Lake Myra and Timber Drive elementary schools switch to a multi-track calendar.
Seven of those schools are on a single-track schedule. Carver is on the modified calendar.
Staff on April 4 by recommended that four multi-track year-round schools convert to a traditional calendar: Banks Road and the two Salem schools in 2018 and Alston Ridge Elementary in Cary in 2019.
Administrators cited how Banks Road and Salem are under-enrolled to recommend a calendar change. Alston Ridge was proposed for conversion because the adjoining Alston Ridge Middle is scheduled to open on a traditional calendar in 2019.
Parental reaction at the four multi-track schools has been split about the proposal. Several speakers attended Tuesday’s board meeting to urge the board to leave the schools on a year-round calendar.