Cumberland, Durham, Wake back to school Wednesday

August 25, 2010 8:52:16 AM PDT
Wednesday marked the first day back for traditional calendar schools in Cumberland, Durham and Wake counties.

It promises to be a challenging year with just about every district around the state dealing with budget cuts, while many are also seeing large increases in the number of students.

Cumberland County Schools

E.E. Smith High School in Fayetteville is introducing new technology to its students.

Smith is the home of Cumberland County's Math and Science Academy. This year it will offer an enhanced 3-D technology classroom. It's where students and teachers can take learning to a whole new dimension.

"They can actually take things like plant and animal cells, the internal workings of an engine, anything that we can create a 3-D model of," Technology Support Manager Dennis Johnson explained. "The students can sit at these tables and will be able to take it apart, look at it, put it all back together in a three dimensional model."

Johnson says while students enjoy working with the technology, it's not all fun and games. He says students have to be skilled in a number of areas in order to make it work.

"You've got to be able to communicate in writing," he added. "You've got to be proficient in mathematics just to be able to do these kinds of things. And then it supports the Social Studies and the Sciences are all involved. It's really you're touching on all the basic core curriculum."

In addition to the 3-D technology, the enhanced classroom is also a telecommunications conference center where students from around the world can exchange ideas and learning experiences everyday.

Durham County Schools

The Durham city school district kicked off its tradition year with a new man at the helm, and he's dealing with staffing challenges.

While teachers spent Tuesday getting classrooms ready to welcome students, Durham's superintendant talked about what's ahead in the new school year.

Dr. Eric Becoats said 237 teaching jobs were eliminated but 185 are re-hired now. However, some vacancies remain in critical areas.

"I think it's good news that we were able to bring teachers back to our school district," Becoats said. "And we are lcoking forward to insuring how we can maintain those quality teachers and keep them in classrooms."

Becoats hopes to fill those vacancies soon.

Wake County Schools

New students and increased traffic in some communities was the main issue for the first day back to school.

Over the last few days, Wake headquarters in Raleigh has been busy with last minute student registrations.

Wake is expecting 3,000 new students this year and that could mean as many as 35 students per class.

"Just yesterday we've had 250 families register students for school and more will be doing so over the next 10 days as they're just moving here and have realized school has started," WCPSS spokesperson Michael Evans said.

If more students show up than projected at any school by the tenth day, principals will hire more teachers. That could lead to students having to switch teachers a few weeks into the school year.

"Your goal in that situation is to lower your class size," East Millbrook Principal Andrew Livengood said. "So, even though it might be a bit disruptive now, for the long term it's a better thing anything you can do to lower class size."

Another concern is the extra traffic in areas that some commuters aren't used to. There are four new schools opening and construction near some existing schools.

The Glenwood Avenue repaving project likely won't be complete until the end of September. As a result, parents at Underwood Elementary were asked to avoid Glenwood and use back roads to access the school.

Outside Heritage Elementary and Middle School in Wake Forest parents tried a new traffic pattern.

ABC11 Eyewitness News first told you about problems on Rogers Road earlier this month and the two year-round schools.

Now with Heritage High School's opening on Wednesday, things in the area could get more congested.


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