Wake Ed

Wake County defends Friday start for year-round schools

Students at Pleasant Union Elementary School in Raleigh, a year-round school, enjoy the last day of classes on June 30, 2015 at Blue Jay County Park. Some Wake County year-round parents complain that the period between school years is shrinking.
Students at Pleasant Union Elementary School in Raleigh, a year-round school, enjoy the last day of classes on June 30, 2015 at Blue Jay County Park. Some Wake County year-round parents complain that the period between school years is shrinking. clowenst@newsobserver.com

Some Wake County parents aren’t happy that year-round schools may open in 2016 on a Friday, but school administrators maintain they have to do so to “the make the calendar work.”

The proposed 2016-17 calendar for multi-track year-round schools that will be presented Tuesday has the first day of classes on the Friday of July 8th. It would continue a trend of Wake shortening the period between the end and start of classes for year-round schools.

For instance, the 2013-14 school calendar had year-round schools end on a Friday, June 27. The 2014-15 school calendar didn’t start until July 7, 10 days later on a Monday.

But when the 2014-15 school year ended on the Tuesday of June 30th, the 2015-16 school calendar started the following Tuesday on July 7, seven days later.

When the 2015-16 school year ends on the Thursday of June 30th, the new school year could begin eight days later on the next Friday of July 8.

“A lot of attention is being put on the traditional calendar, and in the meantime they are trying to slide the year round by with less than 1 week proposed between the 2015-16 and 2016-17 calendar year,” posted Angela Wilson in a comment to Monday’s story about the proposed 2016-17 traditional calendar. “They did it this year, and a lot of us missed that fact, and also moved on to schools changing calendars in the board meeting when the proposed calendar raised the ire of year round parents.

“Distract and diffuse tactic. Up until this year there has been a full week off between calendars, and they slipped by 4 week days on us last year. Don't let them do it again!”

The issue of the Friday start date was discussed by the school board during the March 3 work session. Cathy Moore, Wake’s deputy superintendent for school performance, said some of the days before the July 8, 2016 opening would be used as teacher workdays to help get prepared for the new school year.

School board Vice Chairman Tom Benton, a former year-round principal, said that since he knows it will get asked, he wanted Moore to explain opening on July 8.

“If you don’t start on that Friday, you can not get all 180 days in within the calendar year,” Moore said. “If you start any earlier like a Thursday or something like that, then you don’t have teacher workdays.”

Tamani Anderson Powell, the Wake administrator who helps oversee the development of the year-round calendar, added that the calendar committee probably looked at eight different ways to do the 2016-17 calendar. She said it was done amid a lot of “give and take.”

Anderson Powell said that if you try to move that one day, it has a negative impact somewhere else in the schedule.

“The committee decided after looking at a large number of variations, that this was the better one to start on Friday,” Anderson Powell said. “There were principals, assistant principals, teachers and parents on that committee.”

When the proposed 2016-17 year-round calendar was discussed at the Aug. 18 board work session, Moore again defended starting on a Friday. She said it has to start that day in order “to make the calendar work.”

“There’s no option with that to make the calendar work,” Moore told the board.

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