Wake Ed

Wake County school board to vote on school time, calendar changes

Students change classes on June 23, 2016 at Rand Road Elementary School in Garner. Rand Road is among eight Wake County schools that school administrators are recommending calendar changes for in the 2018-19 school year.
Students change classes on June 23, 2016 at Rand Road Elementary School in Garner. Rand Road is among eight Wake County schools that school administrators are recommending calendar changes for in the 2018-19 school year. tlong@newsobserver.com

The Wake County school board will have a long day on Tuesday filled with decisions on school calendars and bell schedules and recommendations on how to deal with the recent racial incidents in schools.

During the regular meeting, the board is scheduled to vote on changing the bell schedules for Apex High, Wake Forest Middle and Apex, Heritage and North Forest Pines elementary schools for the 2017-18 school year. The parental reaction has been universally against the proposed changes.

Right after that, the board is scheduled to vote on changing the calendars of eight schools for the 2018-19 school year.

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 from a single track year-round schedule to a multi-track year-round calendar.

Like the bell schedule recommendations, the reaction to the calendar changes has been mostly negative.

Later on in the meeting, the board will vote on a voluntary districtwide desegregation resolution. The resolution reaffirms Wake’s commitment to support voluntary desegegration of schools.

The board adopts a desegregation resolution every time it applies for a federal Magnet Schools Program grant. Wake will apply for an MSAP Grant to fund new science and engineering related magnet themes at Southeast Raleigh High, Bugg and Millbrook elementary schools in Raleigh, and Lincoln Heights Elementary in Fuquay-Varina.

But before these votes, the board will have to go through a three-hour work session.

Potential calendar changes to multi-track year-round schools and responding to the recent racially charged videos at schools will take up half the work session.

Administrators will present recommendations on how many multi-track year-round schools are needed in the 2018-19 school year. Administrators say that no recommendations will be made Tuesday on specific multi-track schools that would be converted to single track or a traditional calendar.

But recommendations on specific multi-track schools would probably come in April.

There are 37 Wake multi-track year-round schools this school year. River Bend Elementary is slated to become a traditional-calendar school in August and staff has recommended that Lake Myra and Timber Drive elementary schools become multi track.

Wake expanded the number of multi-track schools to 51 in 2009 to get ahead of what was projected to be record enrollment growth. But Wake has since cut back when the district got fewer new students than projected.

Wake conducted a review of all of the district non-traditional calendar schools, first leading to the recommendations for the single track schools and now for the multi-track schools.

After that presentation, the school board will hear the district’s response to the recent race-related incidents in schools.

Wake has been rocked by three polarizing incidents in recent months that were caught on videos that went viral.

In January, a video was posted online of a school resource officer lifting a black Rolesville High School student in the air and slamming her to the floor. Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman said no criminal charges will be filed against the officer, who resigned from the Rolesville Police Department.

Earlier this month, a video was posted showing a Wake Forest High student pulling a white classmate to the floor twice on March 2, including once after being called a “black piece of (expletive).” The student, who was suspended for five days, has said his actions were triggered by months of racial harassment and a death threat from the white student that were not dealt with by the school.

Two weeks ago, a video was posted showing three Leesville Road Middle students making derogatory remarks about different racial and ethnic groups and chanting “KKK, KKK.” School officials have said the students “received appropriate disciplinary action.”

The three incidents, particularity the latter two, led to all of Wake’s principals discussing Thursday issues of race in schools. The discussion is helping lead to Tuesday’s presentation on strategies utilized to date to address equity in schools and a high-level overview of proposed strategies “to continue the work of facilitating conversations about race among school staff and students.”

Other work session topics are:

▪ A discussion of the items that the school board and staff will work on during the final quarter of the 2016-17 school year;

▪ Update on the education-related legislative bills that are going through the General Assembly;

▪ Overview of the Raleigh Police Department’s youth programs, including the controversially named “Charm School” for girls;

▪ Wake’s plan to expand alternative school services for students with challenging behaviors and for students who’ve dropped out of school.

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