Midtown Raleigh News

Wake County postpones decision on Brier Creek Elementary change

Teacher Jeff Maynard, center, teaches a reading lesson to his third-grade class at Brier Creek Elementary School in Raleigh in 2014.
Teacher Jeff Maynard, center, teaches a reading lesson to his third-grade class at Brier Creek Elementary School in Raleigh in 2014. cseward@newsobserver.com

New calendars could be recommended for several Wake County schools for the 2016-17 school year, as the system deals with overcrowded and under-enrolled locations , school board members learned Wednesday,

That information prompted the school board to postpone a decision on dropping the year-round schedule at Brier Creek Elementary School in northwest Raleigh until members can discuss all the changes at once.

The board had been set to vote in March on switching Brier Creek to the traditional calendar in 2016 as part of staff’s recommendation to open nearby a new, larger elementary school on the year-round calendar. But board members agreed Wednesday to wait until staff brings a complete list of recommended school calendar changes in May before acting on Brier Creek.

“We want to look at it as part of the whole picture,” school board member Kevin Hill, chair of the facilities committee, said after Wednesday’s meeting.

School facilities staff said the board would need to make decisions on calendar changes by July. The changes would be used to help develop the 2016-17 student assignment plan.

Facilities staff only mentioned by name Wednesday two of the other schools that could be recommended for calendar changes in 2016.

Highcroft Drive in Cary could switch to a traditional calendar. Highcroft operates on a single-track year-round calendar, meaning all students follow the same schedule.

Wilburn Elementary School in northeast Raleigh could switch to the single-track year-round calendar. Wilburn operates on the multitrack year-round calendar, meaning students are split on four different schedules to increase the number of children the campus can hold.

Administrators are conducting a review of changes to recommend for overcrowded and underenrolled schools for the 2016-17 school year. The list will be ready by May after the district gets updated student density and growth projections.

Last year’s review is leading to changes for the 2015-16 school year that will put Alston Ridge Elementary in Cary on the multitrack year-round calendar and switch Wakefield Elementary in North Raleigh to the traditional schedule.

Despite vocal opposition from Brier Creek parents who like the year-round schedule, administrators are still standing by their recommendation to change Brier Creek’s calendar and to open E38, an unnamed school two miles away on the Durham border, as the year-round school for the region. Administrators say it makes more sense to operate E38 on the year-round calendar because it can hold more students than Brier Creek.

But several board members voiced concerns Wednesday about converting Brier Creek’s calendar. School board member Susan Evans said she’s leaning toward leaving Brier Creek on the year-round calendar and opening E38 on the traditional schedule. She said they need to avoid making unnecessary changes that will affect families.

“I’m just not completely sure I think it’s worth the trouble to flip-flop the two campuses,” she said.

Allen Oliver, the president of Brier Creek’s PTA, said he left Wednesday’s meeting feeling more optimistic that the school would stay on the year-round schedule.

“If it was such a brilliant idea, they would have said that it made no sense not to do it,” he said.