Education

Timeline

1976

September: Faced with declining enrollment and increased racial segregation in downtown classrooms, Raleigh and Wake County schools merge.

1977

September: A forerunner of today's magnet school program begins.

1985

October: Voters approve $70 million in bonds to help pay for five new schools and 14 renovations. It is the first Wake school bond referendum since a failed effort 14 years earlier.

1986

January: Wake Commission Chairman Stewart Aycock persuades the school board to consider year-round schools.

1988

June: Voters approve $125 million in bonds for 11 schools and 40 renovations.

1989

July: Kingswood Elementary in Cary opens on a single-track, year-round calendar. The experiment, along with interest in establishing multitrack schools, prompts the district to air condition all its classrooms. The job takes until 1992.

1991July: Morrisville Elementary becomes the first new school in Wake to open on a year-round calendar with multiple tracks.

August: Superintendent Robert Wentz predicts that by 2000, at least half of Wake's public schools might have to use staggered, year-round programs.

1992

July: West Lake Middle opens as the district's first year-round multitrack middle school. Wilburn Elementary becomes the first traditional school to convert to a year-round calendar.

August: School board Chairman John Gilbert reassures parents that the district isn't considering moving to a mandatory year-round calendar.

December: School officials predict 118,000 students by 2005, a suggestion that is met with disbelief by residents and public officials.

1993

March: The school board cuts a $600 million building plan in half when it becomes obvious that voters would reject it.

1994

July: Year-round enrollment tops 5,000.

1997

July: The school board invokes state law to demand a mediated settlement with county commissioners over the operating budget. The resolution: The school system will get a set portion of the property tax rate, and the board is allowed to force a tax increase unless it is vetoed by five of seven commissioners. The deal lasts only a few years.

1999

June: Fighting a tax increase, voters reject a $650 million school bond issue.

June: Citing the need to keep up with growth after the bond defeat, county commissioners approve a controversial 10-cent property-tax increase with eight cents going toward school construction. But public protest prompts commissioners, a week later, to rescind a new 1 percent tax on real-estate sales.

July: Year-round enrollment tops 10,000.

2000

September: The school board approves a $550 million construction plan, with $500 million to come from a bond issue. To appease parents, more than half would go toward renovations and improvements instead of new schools.

October: Voters overwhelmingly approve a $500 million school bond issue.

2002

Because of the 1999 bond defeat, no new schools open for the first time in 14 years.

2003

April: The school board asks for an $867 million construction program. To avoid a tax increase, county commissioners cut it to $550 million, including a $450 million bond issue.

September: Enrollment climbs by a record 4,597 students. School leaders wonder whether this is a blip or a trend.

October: Voters approve bond issue. Moe than 40 percent is aimed at renovations.

2004

September: Enrollment grows by 5,098 students - 1,000 more than expected. To meet rising construction costs and to put up modular schools and mobile classrooms, the school board begins delaying projects approved in the 2003 bond issue.

2005

September: Enrollment grows by 6,436 students - 2,000 more than projected. More than 20 percent of Wake's 120,504 students are being taught in trailers, storage closets and other atypical spaces.

December: School administrators propose spending $4.25 billion to $5.59 billion on school construction through 2015.

2006

May: The school board approves a $1.056 billion plan under which 16 to 30 elementary schools would change to a year-round calendar.

November: Wake County voters approve a $970 million bond, which civic leaders say is the best way to provide classroom seats for up to 32,000 more students expected to enroll by 2010, and to avoid converting schools to year-round calendars.

December: Wake County school board releases the second-largest student reassignment in the district's history. The reassignment draft recommends nearly 11,000 students be moved to fill new year-round schools.

2007

February: The school board approves the reassignment plan, moving 10,762 students to different schools, and switches more than 18,000 students from traditional schedules to year-round schedules.

March: Parent group Wake CARES files a class-action lawsuit against the school district, hoping to block the system from converting 22 schools to a year-round schedule.

May: Superior Court Judge Howard Manning Jr. rules that the Wake school system cannot require students to attend year-round schools, and later says that voluntary year-round attendance would be allowed.

May: The school system sends out over 30,000 forms to families, which would consent to letting their children attend year-round and modified-calendar schools. Most families consent.

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