Bowing to strong parental opposition, Wake County school administrators are dropping a northwest Raleigh elementary school from the list of year-round schools being considered for conversion to the traditional calendar in 2016.
Administrators said Wednesday that they’re recommending leaving Brier Creek Elementary on the year-round calendar and instead opening a nearby elementary school in Morrisville on the traditional calendar. The district now will only consider converting Highcroft Drive Elementary in Cary and Salem Elementary and Salem Middle in Apex to the traditional calendar in the 2016-17 school year.
Administrators cited factors such as community feedback and concerns from school board members who had been lobbied by Brier Creek families to retain the school’s year-round calendar.
“The feedback really overwhelmingly from the community was just to leave the school calendar as it was,” Cathy Moore, deputy superintendent for school performance, told the school board’s facilities committee.
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Administrators originally had proposed changing Brier Creek’s calendar and opening E-38, a yet-to-be-named school two miles away on the Durham border, as the year-round school for the region. Administrators had said it makes more sense to operate E-38 on the year-round calendar because it can hold more students than Brier Creek.
But even with Brier Creek’s calendar unchanged, Moore warned that the community should be prepared for some families to be reassigned next year when E-38 opens. She said that the schools are so close that some reassignment is necessary.
In contrast to Brier Creek, school leaders are anticipating hearing at community meetings and on an online forum from families on both sides of the issue at Highcroft and Salem schools. A meeting is scheduled June 4 at 6:30 p.m. for the Highcroft Elementary forum. A date for the Salem proposal hasn’t been set.
The online forum can be found here.
Following community feedback, staff will recommend to the school board on June 16 which schools, if any, should be converted. The board could vote on the recommendation on July 21.
Administrators cite the need for more traditional-calendar seats in western Wake as the reason for potentially converting Highcroft and Salem. Many year-round schools in western Wake are under-enrolled, and many traditional-calendar schools are crowded.
School board member Susan Evans said the conversions would help reduce the calendar mismatches caused when families have older siblings attend traditional-calendar high schools.
But school board member Bill Fletcher warned that converting the schools could hurt the year-round program, making it even less desirable. For instance, he said, converting Salem Middle would cause calendar mismatches for the year-round elementary schools that feed into the school.
“We’ve just turned the coin over and created more of a problem for ourselves,” Fletcher said.
Hui: 919-829-4534; Twitter: @nckhui