Wake County school administrators plan to recommend converting between four and eight multi-track year-round schools to a traditional calendar in 2018.
Administrators will say Wake doesn’t need to have as many multi-track schools, which are used to cut down on construction dollars by increasing the number of students a school can accommodate. Administrators will say Wake can convert two multi-track middle schools and between two and six multi-track elementary schools to the traditional calendar for the 2018-19 school year.
Administrators planned to make the recommendations at Tuesday’s school board work session. But the presentation was moved to April 4 to give school board members more time to discuss the proposal.
School officials identified 18 multi-track schools for discussion for calendar conversion. The middle schools are Durant Road, East Cary, Lufkin, Pine Hollow and Salem. The elementary schools are Alston Ridge, Ballentine, Banks Roads, Durant Road, Herbert Akins, Heritage, Laurel Park, Middle Creek, North Forest Pines, Pleasant Union, Salem, Sanford Creek and Turner Creek.
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Calls and letters will eventually be made to the families and staff at the 18 schools as school leaders take online comments about which schools to convert.
Recommendations on specific schools to convert would come in April with the school board potentially voting on the changes in May.
The proposal could result in the latest reduction on the number of multi-track schools in Wake. There were 51 multi-track schools in 2009. There will be 36 schools this fall.
The majority of Wake’s 159,000 students attend traditional-calendar schools, which open in late August and end by early June. Students have summer breaks of 10 or more weeks.
In year-round schools, the summer vacation is reduced to a month or less, and students have three-week breaks throughout the school year.
At multi-track schools, students are split into four groups, or tracks, that follow their own schedules and can increase a building’s capacity by as much as 33 percent. At the single-track year-round schools, all the students follow the same schedule.
Wake had a mass expansion of multi-track schools between 2007 and 2009 because the district was projected to continue growing by 5,000 or more students a year. But slower-than-expected growth during the recession, opposition from parents and a lawsuit kept many of the multi-track schools below their projected enrollments.
The proposed changes come after a district study found the majority of traditional-calendar middle schools were over capacity. The study also found that only two of the nine multi-track middle schools were over capacity.
As part of the first step of the study, administrators recommended converting five single-track year-round schools and a modified calendar school to a traditional calendar in 2018. Staff also recommended converting two single track schools to a multi-track schedule.
The school board voted Tuesday to send the recommendations for those eight schools back to the board’s student achievement committee for further review.
In the next stage, Wake is looking at the existing multi-track schools. Wake’s target is to have the multi-track middle schools at 110 percent of their capacity. Instead, they’re now at 85 percent.
Wake has nine multi-track middle schools. Staff will recommend reducing the number to seven schools in 2018.
Administrators will say that having fewer multi-track middle schools reduces the need to have as many as multi-track elementary schools. Staff will propose reducing the 27 multi-track elementary schools to 21 to 25 schools.
Items that will be considered for whether a school should convert is if it can handle all the students who’d return because they left when it was a year-round school.