Wake school board considers calendar changes

Andrea Blanford Image
Wednesday, April 5, 2017
School board ponders calendar moves
Calendar and bell changes are being considered.

CARY, North Carolina (WTVD) -- The Wake County school board is considering converting three year-round schools to traditional calendar schools for the 2018-2019 school year.

In its work session Tuesday, school district staff members recommended the board convert Banks Road Elementary School as well as Salem Elementary School and Salem Middle School from multi-track year-round calendars to a traditional calendar.

In the 2019-2020 school year, WCPSS staff recommended converting Alston Ride Elementary School to a traditional calendar as well.

District leaders said there were four drivers behind the recommended changes: better utilization of multi-track year-round school buildings, increased efficient for transportation, choice for parents, and stability for families.

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"It's very important to me that we don't bring you a recommendation just willy-nilly and move parents around," said Laura Evans, Senior Director of Student Assignment. "So I think stability for families as one of your four pillars has got to be a driver here."

Evans said seven of WCPSS's nine year-round schools are under-enrolled, costing the district valuable resources and leaving seats open in some schools while others are over-crowded.

School board members are also considering changes in the bell schedules at some schools because of a bus driver shortage.

Bob Snidemiller, WCPSS Transportation Department Senior Director, said a shortage of drivers has been plaguing the district for at least the last eight years.

He recommended board members approve, at its regular meeting, paying current drivers a one-time retention bonus of $750 in June 2017.

He said Human Resources is also exploring better ways of recruiting drivers.

WCPSS owns more than 900 buses, but during the last three years, has had to park more than 150 of those because the district is struggling to recruit drivers and keep them.

"We're down to 731 filled bus driver positions," said Snidemiller. "And so we feel like we need to do whatever we can do to retain bus drivers, give them incentive to return to us next year. So again, we can be successful with transportation of our 70,000-plus bus riders next year."

Bell schedules changes are being considered for Apex High School, Apex Elementary School, North Forest Pines Elementary, Wake Forest Middle, and Heritage Elementary.

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