Wake Ed

Wake County still reviewing calendar change for 12 schools

The Wake County school system is still considering switching 12 high-needs Wake County elementary schools to a new type of year-round calendar for the 2016-17 school year.

Administrators had planned to bring to the school board by September a recommendation on whether to switch any of the 12 schools in the Elementary Support Model program to the “continuous learning calendar.” While that timetable isn’t going to be met, school officials say the potential calendar change is still under discussion.

Lisa Luten, a Wake County schools spokeswoman, said administrators still plans to develop a recommendation on whether to change or not change the calendars using feedback gathered from parents and staff at the 12 schools.

Luten said no decisions on that recommendation have been made, but it will come back to the board for discussion this year.

If any schools change their calendars, a decision would need to be made by the end of January. That’s because February is when Wake begins taking calendar-option applications from families who want to change calendars for the upcoming school year.

So if any of the schools switch to this new year-round calendar, Wake would want to give those families a chance to apply to attend a traditional-calendar school next fall.

The elementary schools in the program are Barwell Road, Brentwood, Bugg, Creech Road, East Garner, Fox Road, Hodge Road, Lincoln Heights, Lynn Road, Smith, Walnut Creek and Wilburn. Nearly all the schools are in the eastern part of the county. At all the schools, at least half of the student body receives federally subsidized lunches.

They were picked for inclusion in the program because their passing rates on state exams are well below the district average. They’re getting additional resources such as more professional development for teachers and longer teacher contracts.

Administrators have said that the continuous learning calendar could boost student achievement. Wake has been billing the calendar as a hybrid of the year-round and traditional calendars.

Under the continuous learning calendar, the school year would run from late July to mid-June. The calendar has periodic three-week breaks that can be used to give extra instruction to students, but those same breaks also can result in higher child-care costs for families, compared to care available during a long summer break.