The Wake County school board agreed Tuesday to not switch nine traditional-calendar elementary schools to the year-round schedule for the 2016-17 school year. But the board could decide in May to make the change for the 2017-18 school year.
Board members agreed with school administrators that there wouldn’t be enough time to research and develop affordable child-care options for families before the start of the 2016-17 school year. Instead, administrators said they’ll continue to research the options and get parent feedback before recommending in May whether those nine schools should switch schedules in time for July 2017.
“No one should interpret that a final decision has been made to convert those schools to a single track year-round,” said school board Chairman Tom Benton. “We are confident in the idea, but we’re needing to see more details from staff on implementation before we give final approval.”
Most Wake students attend schools on the traditional calendar, with classes running from late August to early June. Summer child-care programs are not only more plentiful but also are more likely to be subsidized to keep costs affordable.
Wake has been looking for ways to help the 12 schools in the Elementary Support Model program, which provides assistance for schools with low test scores. All 12 schools have high concentrations of students receiving subsidized lunches.
School administrators want to put all the schools in the program on the year-round calendar called Track 4, which generally begins in late July and ends in late June. Students attend nine weeks of classes before going on three-week breaks.
Administrators say the calendar change will allow them to add extra days to the school year by having students come in during some of the breaks. They also say that the one-month summer break in the track 4 schedule will reduce summer learning loss.
Nine of the 12 schools in the program are on the traditional calendar: Brentwood, Bugg, Fox Road, Lynn Road and Walnut Creek in Raleigh; Creech Road, East Garner and Smith in Garner; and Lincoln Heights Elementary in Fuquay-Varina. More than 5,000 students attend the nine schools.
Three elementary schools in the program are already on year-round schedules: Barwell Road and Wilburn in Raleigh and Hodge Road in Knightdale. Hodge Road offers only track 4 while Barwell and Wilburn operate multiple tracks, in which students are split into groups following different schedules.
For the 2016-17 school year, the nine traditional-calendar schools will keep their current calendars. But the schools will get extra money to offer a three-week program this summer to try to reduce summer learning loss. Benton said the camps show Wake’s commitment to boost learning at those nine schools.
Also for the 2016-17 school year, Barwell Road and Wilburn will drop their extra tracks and only offer track 4. The three year-round schools would serve as pilot schools for the 2016-17 school year, testing things such as the programs that will be offered during the breaks.
School board revises hiring policy
The Wake County school board gave initial approval Tuesday to a revised employment policy that would expand job protections to include barring discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation, genetic information or military affiliation.
But gay activists complain that the changes don’t include transgender employees by protecting people based on their gender identity. School board member Jim Martin, chairman of the policy committee, said those concerns will be addressed at a later date.
The board is scheduled to give final approval to the changes Feb. 16. The board is under a March 1 state deadline to make policy changes dealing with nepotism.