Families at eight Wake County schools won another reprieve Tuesday when the school board voted to not change their school calendars in 2018.
The school board voted against converting East Wake and North Garner middle schools and Carver, Lockhart, Rand Road and Vance elementary schools to a traditional calendar in 2018. In that same vote, the board also rejected turning Lake Myra and Timber Drive elementary schools to a multi-track year-round calendar.
Board members said they needed to further study the issue before they could support a change that affected thousands of families. They warned that they could revisit the issue.
“We don’t feel like all of the pieces are in place and we would not be serving our district well unless we have all those pieces,” said school board member Kathy Hartenstine. “So the conversation will continue.”
The announcement that the changes would be voted down drew cheers from parents who had come to the board meeting to make a last-minute plea to save their school calendars.
“I just want to say thank you for voting no on this,” said Chris Faw, a parent from Knightdale. “ I also want to say thank you for listening to our feedback.”
East Wake, North Garner, Lake Myra, Lockhart, Rand Road, Timber Drive and Vance use the track 4 year-round calendar, where the school year runs from late July to June 30. Students have three-week breaks after every nine weeks of classes.
Carver uses the modified calendar, which runs from late July to late May. Students get periodic two-week breaks.
Student assignment staff wanted to change six of the schools to a traditional calendar, citing issues such as how many of them are under-enrolled. School officials also pointed to how a number of students at those schools didn’t arrive until traditional-calendar schools start in late August, missing several weeks of school.
Parents argued on the district’s online forum and at board meetings that their children should remain on the year-round calendar. They said their children benefit academically from not having a long summer break where they fall behind.
”Academically it’s proven that these children are thriving in this balanced year-round model,” said Adam Bush, a parent at Rand Road. “Test scores seem to be higher. Students and teachers seem to be fresh and eager.”
Families thought they had fought off the changes when the board decided in the spring to table the issue to see how Wake would deal in 2018 with smaller state-mandated class sizes in kindergarten through third grade. Staff said they could absorb the change and brought back the issue last month, when board members tentatively agreed to the changes.
On Tuesday, board members said they had listened to the community in making their decision.
“We really want to be making the right decision for all students in our district and sometimes that’s favorable, sometimes that’s not,” said school board Chairwoman Monika Johnson-Hostler. “Hopefully this is an experience for all of you that have engaged with us that you actually see what we say is really true.
“We are listening. We are asking questions to answers that we may not have had.”