Education

Wake County schools offer a calendar ‘compromise.’ Families say it’s a bad deal.

Wake School board sees students and families as 'data points,' not communities, parents say

Parents in Holly Springs are concerned that the new Buckhorn Creek Elementary will be traditional calendar rather than year-round, what most kids are on now. Residents say the school board has largely ignored community desires.
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Parents in Holly Springs are concerned that the new Buckhorn Creek Elementary will be traditional calendar rather than year-round, what most kids are on now. Residents say the school board has largely ignored community desires.

Wake County school leaders still intend to open a new elementary school in Holly Springs on a traditional calendar, but they’re offering what they call a compromise after several parents have complained.

The school board had approved most of the 2018-19 student assignment plan last week but delayed a decision on what to do with filling the new Buckhorn Creek Elementary School and related moves affecting other schools in southern Wake. The delay came as families being moved to Buckhorn lobbied for the school to open on a year-round calendar since 84 percent of its students would come from year-round schools.

School administrators said Wednesday they need Buckhorn to open on a traditional calendar because there aren’t enough of those seats in that part of the county. But now the revised assignment plan would give each family assigned to Buckhorn Creek two different year-round schools they can apply for in January to attend next year. There’s no guarantee that their application will be approved.

School board members called the new proposal a compromise since it should increase chances for families to stay on a year-round calendar. The board will vote on the plan Tuesday.

“It’s not what folks are asking for, but it’s a compromise,” school board member Lindsay Mahaffey said at Wednesday’s facilities committee meeting.

But several Buckhorn Creek parents reacted angrily on Twitter and said it was no compromise.

“I’ve never been more disappointed in elected officials than I am with the @WCPSS school board,” tweeted parent Jeremy Merrill. “They have not listened to a single concern from their voting constituents.”

Some families in Holly Springs complained that one of the two year-round options, Ballentine Elementary School, is in Fuquay-Varina. The other option is the school they now attend, Holly Grove Elementary in Holly Springs, which is under an enrollment cap that could limit how many get accepted.

“Offering Ballentine as an option for year round is not a compromise,” tweeted parent Alice Rup. “That school is in an entirely different town! What happened to proximity? #MakeBCESYearRound”

Mahaffey, whose district includes Buckhorn Creek, said parents will have to make a decision about what’s more important.

“Having Holly Grove and Ballentine allows more families who want year-round calendar to stay on year-round calendar,” Mahaffey said. “They just have to decide whether it’s calendar or proximity that works best for their family.”

After next week’s vote, student assignment staff said they’d begin a discussion in January or February about the school calendar as part of the plan that will be developed for the 2019-20 school year. Wake has steadily been reducing the number of multi-track year-round schools as part of a plan that calls for opening all new elementary and middle schools on a traditional calendar.

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

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