Wake Ed

Wake County recommends converting Highcroft Elementary

Parents at Highcroft Drive Elementary School in Cary hold up signs at Tuesday’s Wake County school board work session asking for the school to be put on the traditional calendar.
Parents at Highcroft Drive Elementary School in Cary hold up signs at Tuesday’s Wake County school board work session asking for the school to be put on the traditional calendar. khui@newsobserver.com

Wake County school administrators recommended Tuesday only switching one western Wake year-round school to the traditional calendar for the 2016-17 school year.

Administrators recommended converting Highcroft Drive Elementary School in Cary from the year-round calendar and also opening nearby White Oak Elementary in 2016 on the traditional calendar. Salem Elementary and Salem Middle also had been considered for calendar conversion, but administrators recommended leaving both Apex schools on the year-round calendar with the issue being revisited again next year.

Administrators also stuck with the recommendation made in May to the school board’s facilities committee to leave Brier Creek Elementary School in northwest Raleigh on the year-round calendar and to open a nearby school that could be called Pleasant Grove Elementary on the traditional calendar.

Administrators said in May they wanted to review the calendars at Salem and Highcroft, resulting in community meetings and online forums to get feedback from parents.

In Highcroft’s case, administrators said converting the school would help address the need for additional traditional-calendar seats in western Wake. Conversion also would put Highcroft on the same calendar as the middle school its students later would attend.

But cons for converting Highcroft include how it won’t increase capacity in a growing part of the county and won’t necessarily reduce crowding at the school. Crowding should drop, at least initially, at Highcroft when White Oak opens.

Some of the same concerns were raised at Salem, where there is also a need for additional traditional-calendar seats around the Apex schools. Administrators had cited how both Salem schools are under-enrolled, making it harder to deliver instruction to students since funding for programs is based on enrollment.

But supporters of keeping the Salem schools on the year-round calendar argued the calendar promotes a better learning environment than the traditional calendar. Those parents also said the conversion shouldn’t take place so soon after student assignment changes will go into effect at the schools for the 2015-16 school year.

The school board is expected to vote on the recommendations July 21. If approved, it’s supposed to give enough time for Highcroft families who want to stay on the year-round calendar to find seats in other schools.

Tuesday’s recommendations are separate from a different study being done by staff on whether to recommend switching 12 high-poverty elementary schools in 2016 to a new type of year-round schedule, called the continuous learning calendar. The recommendation on those schools won’t be made until August or September.

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