Education

Questions raised to determine school conversion

The Wake County school district has asked school board members to rank, in order of importance, the questions that would be used to determine which 16 to 30 elementary schools to convert to a year-round calendar in 2007.

A proposed $1.06 billion school construction plan could not keep up with growth without the conversion of some schools to year-round. Year-round schools can handle more students than traditional schools can. Wake could choose to convert a lower number of large schools, which tend to be located in one part of the county, or spread the year-round calendar by converting a higher number of smaller schools.

“If we only target the biggest schools, it will almost solely be in the far north, far west and far south of the county,” said Chuck Dulaney, assistant superintendent for growth and planning. “That would go against ... providing families traditional-calendar options.”

Here are the questions school board members are being asked to rank in order of importance. They are listed here in no particular order:

- Does the school community want to convert schools?- Would conversion let the school board lift an enrollment cap at a school or return spot nodes to a closer school. A spot node is an area that’s sent to a more distant school because the closest one doesn’t have space.- Does the school have enough students for at least four classes at each grade level?- How many seats will be gained through conversion?- Is the area assigned to a school growing, or will reassignment be needed to fill the seats?- What impact will there be on existing year-rounds if students are returned to converted schools?- Does the school have obstacles that will make it hard to move the carts that teachers store their materials on when they go on break?- Is there a traditional-calendar school that could be made available to parents who can’t make year-round work for them?- Will the return of existing year-round students to converted schools so overcrowd the campus that reassignment is needed?- Do the converted schools have a year-round middle school option, or can one be created by conversion?- Will conversion and any related reassignment have a negative impact on the district’s ability to maintain healthy schools?- What impact will conversion have on transfer students?

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