WCPSS parents: 'It's not our job' to fix imbalance in year-round class sizes

Andrea Blanford Image
Monday, July 16, 2018

APEX, N.C. (WTVD) -- Days after the start of the year-round school year, the principal of Apex's Salem Middle School asked some parents to consider moving their 8th grade students to another track.

In a letter sent home to 41 families with 8th graders in Track 3, Principal Elaine Hofmann asked parents to consider moving their children to the less crowded Track 2.

Track 2, which is also in session, doesn't break until late Aug. while Track 3 releases for break July 27.

As of Monday, Track 3 has 68 eighth graders, while Track 2 only has 50.

While English, social studies, and science classes in Track 3 started the school year with large class sizes with an upwards of 40 students, the same classes on Track 2 only had about 20 students.

Salem Middle School parents knew about this imbalance between the two tracks when their children entered as 6th graders. The school combined the tracks back then, which led to another problem of too many substitutes as teachers took staggered vacations.

This year, the school has divided the tracks once again, but that means asking some parents to change their schedule now that their child is entering their last year of middle school.

"To say that's your choice, that's not a choice," said Kristi Link, mom of a Salem Middle School 8th grader. "It's not a choice to say, stick with 42 or hope your neighbors move their kids, right? That's really what we're all hoping for."

"This class specifically has gone through two years of really awful academic and behavioral issues and they should've been able to come up with a better solution and they haven't," said Erika Chapman, mom of another Salem Middle School 8th grader.

While Principal Hoffman mentioned budget cuts in her letter home to parents, a spokesperson for Wake County Public Schools said this is not an issue of low funds. Rather, Hoffman can't afford to run an inefficient year-round school, paying more teachers to work on one track, while the other has plenty of room and resources for more students.

WCPSS spokesperson Lisa Luten stressed that the move to Track 2 would be voluntary and said Hoffman notified parents as soon as she was aware of the class size issue.