Education

Wake County parents oppose school calendar changes

Second grade students in Kathy Etheridge's class, like Alyssa Meyer, left, and Felicity Priest, right, spend time reading to themselves in their class on Feb. 5, 2015 at Vance Elementary School near Garner, N.C.
Second grade students in Kathy Etheridge's class, like Alyssa Meyer, left, and Felicity Priest, right, spend time reading to themselves in their class on Feb. 5, 2015 at Vance Elementary School near Garner, N.C. clowenst@newsobserver.com

Parental reaction has been overwhelmingly against a proposal to change schedules at eight Wake County schools in 2018 that could move thousands of students out of the year-round school program.

School administrators have proposed changing East Wake and North Garner middle schools and Carver, Lockhart, Rand Road and Vance elementary schools to a traditional calendar. They’ve also recommended that Lake Myra and Timber Drive elementary schools switch to a multi-track year-round calendar.

The feedback on the school district’s online discussion forum has been largely negative about the changes at the four Garner schools and the four eastern Wake schools.

“It is very disappointing that all of a sudden the (school) board thinks that making this type of change is acceptable and or going to fix a problem,” wrote Lisa Staley, a parent at Carver Elementary in Wendell, on Wake’s forum.

On Feb. 21, administrators recommended changes at seven single-track year-round schools and Carver. In the coming months, administrators will also recommend changes to multi-track year-round schools and to the modified-calendar magnet schools.

Officials say the proposed changes are designed to make sure schools are efficiently balanced to reduce the number of overcrowded and under-utilized schools.

The proposed changes would go into effect for the 2018-19 school year. School leaders say they want to get changes approved by the spring so they can begin work on the 2018-19 student assignment plan.

The majority of Wake’s 159,549 students attend traditional-calendar schools, which open in late August and end by early June. Students have summer breaks of 10 or more weeks.

At the single track schools, classes start in late July or early August and end in late June. Students have three-week breaks after every nine weeks of classes.

Students at modified-calendar schools get periodic two-week breaks so their school year runs from late July to late May.

Many of the comments on the discussion forum come from parents who say they prefer the year-round calendar because of the frequent short breaks and shorter summer vacation.

“I love the year-round scheduling because it does provide a wonderful break right at the time that the kids seem to be overloaded,” wrote Jennifer Richardson, a parent at Lockhart Elementary in Knightdale. “It also allows for just enough down time that they don’t forget everything by the time they go back.”

Some parents complained that Wake would be forcing families to consider changing schools to stay on the year-round calendar.

“For students who are currently at Rand Road and really thrive in the year round school model, they will have to choose ‘Staying with friends, but hating the schedule’ or ‘Leaving friends and loving the schedule,’ ” wrote Debra Blackmon, a parent at Rand Road Elementary in Garner.

But Wake has received some comments from parents who say they support switching to the traditional calendar.

“My oldest is going into high school next year which is traditional,” wrote Jen Caldwell, a parent at Rand Road. “I would really like all of my children to be on the same schedule.”

Administrators will report back on the feedback to the school board on March 7. The school board could vote on the calendar changes for the eight schools on March 21.

T. Keung Hui: 919-829-4534, @nckhui

Proposed school calendar changes

Go to http://bit.ly/2m9ArzE to learn more about proposed Wake County school calendar changes, including a link to an online discussion forum.

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