Wake Ed

Short summer break for some Wake County year-round students

Wake County’s track 2 and track 3 year-round students are enjoying their brief summer break before the new school year starts next week.

The 2014-15 school year ended Tuesday for the multi-track year-round schools and the 2015-16 school year begins July 7. While track 4 started a one-month summer break this week and track 1 ends a one-month break next week, tracks 2 and 3 just get one week off between school years.

While tracks 1 and 4 generally follow the cycle of nine weeks in and three weeks out, tracks 2 and 3 are more fluid. For instance, track 2 will have its first break after six weeks of classes while track 3 will take a hiatus after only three weeks of school.

The difficulty getting students to attend tracks 2 and 3 have complicated the Wake County school system’s efforts to use the multi-track schools to increase capacity.

“They (multi-track schools) are very complicated to run effectively and they lose efficiency as tracks become unbalanced,” said school board Vice Chairman Tom Benton, a former multi-track principal. “All schools struggle with keeping tracks 2 and 3 as large as 1 and 4 because 1 and 4 come the closest to matching a traditional-calendar school.

“When we talk about in essence increasing the capacity by 33 percent with multi-track year-round, that’s if every track is equally balanced at every grade level in numbers.”

Tracks 2 and 3 were so unpopular that a number of multi-track elementary schools collapsed them and put more classes on the other two tracks. But this caused problems with the multi-track middle schools not having enough room for all the track 1 and 4 students coming from elementary school.

In response, the district began a plan in 2011 to balance out the four tracks, starting first in kindergarten. The goal has been to – one grade level at a time – ensure that multi-track elementary schools offer all four tracks.