Enrollment, calendars hot topics for Wake school board

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Enrollment cap, school calendars among topics discussed by the school board.

Wake County school board members tackled several issues at Tuesday night's board meeting.

SCHOOL ENROLLMENT CAPS

The only issue they took a vote on was enrollment caps for the 2016-2017 school year. Staff with WCPSS recommended the board take away the enrollment cap for Cary Elementary and Davis Drive Middle School.

They recommended the board keep the enrollment caps at:

Hodge Road Elementary
Holly Grove Elementary
Hunter Elementary
Mills Park Elementary School
Walnut Creek Elementary School
Mills Park Middle School
Enloe High School
Heritage High School
Panther Creek High School

Staff then recommended the board at the following six schools to that enrollment cap list:

Cedar Fork Elementary
Davis Drive Elementary
Fuquay-Varina Elementary
Wiley Elementary

Apex Middle School
Fuquya-Varina High School

They asked that the board make the enrollment date the same as the date of the meeting, which was Tuesday, Jan. 19 to affect those moving to these base school areas from here on out.

"I did want to highlight that while these caps put limitations on those from the base attendance area that can attend the schools once they move in after this date, we have clarified with the student assignment staff that there will be some availability for calendar option students at most of these schools to still apply and potentially be accepted as calendar option students," said board member Susan Evans.

Board members also stressed that while they do not like to have to cap enrollment at schools, it is a necessary evil as the county continues to grow and students continue to fill schools to capacity.

"This points to a gap between residential construction and school construction for which we in this community have the opportunity to fix," said board member Bill Fletcher, "that is for the school board and the county commission to continue to work together to find appropriate streams of to build the schools that our continued growth requires."

"There are capping solutions coming in the near term with new schools that are in the process right now that will open in the next couple of years and so in some of these situations these caps will just be in place for a year, in some cases two," Evans said. "In other situations we don't have quite a short term solution because we've got proposed future plans for schools that as Mr. Fletcher alluded, we still need to secure funding."

SCHOOL CALENDAR CHANGES

Outside of enrollment caps, calendar changes for under-performing schools sparked debate among board members.

Back in March, WCPSS staff started talking about making calendar changes to 12 Elementary Support Model Schools.

The schools is this list are as follows:

Traditional Calendar
Brentwood
Bugg
Creech Road
East Garner
Fox Road
Lincoln Heights
Lynn Road
Smith
Walnut Creek

Year Round
Hodge Road

Year Round Tracks 1 & 4
Barwell Road
Wilburn

Three options on the table:
All 12 schools convert to Continuous Learning Calendar
All 12 schools YR - Track 4:
o Convert 9 schools from Traditional to YR Track 4
o Convert 2 (Barwell/Wilburn) from YR Multi-track to YR Track 4
o Hodge remain YR Track 4
Six traditional/ six YR Track 4
o Convert 2 (Barwell/Wilburn) from YR Multi-Track to YR Track 4
o Convert 3 schools (East Garner, Creech Road, Walnut Creek) to YR Track 4
o Hodge remain YR Track 4

Staff asked the board to delay implementation of any of these plans until the 2017-18 school year. They asked for time to hear feedback from parents, work on assignment challenges and to be able to identify and develop academic-based track-out programs.

The bigger picture for these calendar changes is to hopefully improve performance at these schools. Though some board members are open to year round others say that alone will not be a solution.

"Enrichment is what is critically needed in a lot of these lower-performing settings," said board member Jim Martin, who also said he does not support mandatory year round.
Other things board members say they need to consider is how this would affect the day to day for parents used to the traditional calendar as far as child care needs and transportation.

The board asked for the staff to gather more information on those needs as well as more from the schools to discuss further at the next board meeting in two weeks.

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