Wake Ed

Wake County school board to vote on meal prices, valedictorians

Fifth graders Nygee Stewart, left, and Yvonne Gonzalez Colon, buy lunch at Partnership Elementary School in Raleigh, N.C., Thursday, April 21, 2016.
Fifth graders Nygee Stewart, left, and Yvonne Gonzalez Colon, buy lunch at Partnership Elementary School in Raleigh, N.C., Thursday, April 21, 2016. ehyman@newsobserver.com

The Wake County school board’s stacked agenda for Tuesday includes raising school meal prices, dropping the use of high school valedictorians, potential calendar changes for nine new schools and developing the next building program and student assignment plan.

During the work session, staff will present an update on the proposed $2 billion school building program that would cover different projects between 2017 and 2023. Board members asked staff last week to see if there’s a way to revise the plan to speed up both the construction of the new middle school next to Alston Ridge Elementary in Cary and the renovation of East Wake Middle School.

The official board vote requesting funding for the building program needs to be made by June 7.

Next up, the board will get an update on the Elementary Support Model (ESM) schools. The board could be asked to approve switching Walnut Creek Elementary School to a year-round calendar for the 2016-17 and to convert the eight remaining traditional-calendar ESM schools for the 2017-18 school year.

Staff will then switch to asking for board feedback on how to develop the school enrollment plan for the 2017-18 school year. This would be the board’s opportunity to follow up on the discussion from the February retreat on how student assignment can be used more aggressively to promote diverse student enrollments.

The last work session item is staff’s presentation on the balanced assessment portion of the strategic plan. Wake is looking at the best way to evaluate student performance without relying as much on standardized testing.

At the regular meeting, the board will be asked to vote on raising school meal prices by 25 cents for the 2016-17 school year. Breakfast would rise to $1.25 in elementary schools and $1.50 in middle and high schools. Lunch would increase to $2.25 in elementary schools and $2.50 in middle and high schools.

Multiple reasons are cited for the possible increase, including rising production and labor costs, fewer students buying food because of new federal nutritional standards and federal mandates over meal pricing.

Among the other items scheduled to be voted on are:

▪ Initial adoption of a policy to discontinue the use of high school valedictorians and salutatorians after 2018. In the new Latin honors system, seniors whose weighted grade-point average is at least 3.75 would receive titles of summa cum laude, magna cum laude or cum laude starting in 2019.

▪ Initial adoption of revisions to the Code of Student Conduct that are supposed to give principals more leeway to issue shorter out-of-school student suspensions for Level II and Level III offenses. Examples of Level II offenses include cheating, theft, fighting and sexual harassment. Example of Level III offenses include drug possession, possession of weapons that aren’t firearms and assault on students and staff.

▪ Approval of a resolution expressing the school board’s commitment to district-wide voluntary desegregation. It’s a requirement as part of Wake’s efforts to win a new federal Magnet Schools Assistance (MSAP) grant.

▪ Approval of contracts with the Raleigh Police and Cary Police to continue providing school resource officers for the 2016-17 school year.

The school board will also be recognizing different groups

▪ The 27 magnet schools that received School of Excellence or School of Distinction awards from Magnet Schools of America. This includes Douglas Elementary, which was named the top magnet school in the nation, and Wiley Elementary, which was named the top magnet elementary school.

▪ The 21 Wake County high school seniors who were accepted lasr year into the district’s Future Teachers Program. Upon completing their studies in college, they will be offered teaching contracts in the district.

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