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Fallout over school construction bill spills over into Wake County school bond meeting

it's safe to say that the ongoing struggle over who will control school construction in Wake County had a noticeable impact on Thursday's joint meeting of the school board and county commissioners.

As noted in today's article, several heated exchanges between school board members and commissioners took place as they discussed this $939.9 million school construction program. Officials readily acknowledged that the Senate's passage of Senate Bill 236 on Wednesday helped raise the emotions.

"You’ve got some lingering tension over the victory we had in the Senate yesterday,” said Joe Bryan, chairman of the board of commissioners, in an interview. “We’ve got to come together to get a bond passed.”

Joint meeting ends in heated exchange between Paul Coble and Jim Martin

More to come later, but there was an abrupt end to today's joint Wake County school board and board of commissioners meeting on the bond issue.

School board chairman Keith Sutton adjourned the meeting early to cut off the heated exchange between Commissioner Paul Coble and school board member Jim Martin. Coble accused the school board of not showing how it was going to stretch dollars to save money while Martin accused him of not making honest statements to the public.

In one particularly heated moment, Martin asked Coble to say how he'd save money. Martin asked if Coble wanted mandatory year-round, saying he'd offer to share with him all the letters from parents who hate the idea.

Looking at whether to open Wake County's next middle school without a track

Should Wake County's next middle school be built without a track or should the district buy land so that one can be built on site?

M-8, located off Leesville Church Road in northwest Raleigh, is a small property that initially was considered for use as an elementary school. So when the decision was made to open it as a middle school with a smaller than typical property size, no track was included in the design.

But school administrators asked the school board's facilities committee last week to consider authorizing the acquisition of enough land around M-8 so that a track can be built.

Looking at what the Wake County school bond scenarios can fund

The lobbying and negotiating over what projects to include in the next Wake County school construction bond referendum is already in progress.

As noted in today's article, the scenarios presented Wednesday range from $609 million to $2.3 billion. It's understood that the $2.3 billion, which lays out all the district's needs, isn't going to happen.

The question is which projects to still fund in a reduced bond amount.

Wake County school staff lays out school bond scenarios

More to come later, but Wake County school administrators laid out today five different school bond scenarios ranging from $609 million to $2.3 billion.

* Scenario 1: $2.3 billion for 32 new schools, rebuild 12 existing schools, major renovations at 16 schools and other projects.
* Scenario 2: $1.1 billion for 15 new schools, rebuild six schools, start planning on rebuilds of two schools.
* Scenario 2A: $1.1 billion for 15 new schools, rebuild six schools, start rebuilds on two schools, major renovations at three schools.

UPDATE

Click here to view the handouts for the scenarios.

Click here to view a handout of the description of the rebuilds/whole campus renovations.

Wake County school board committee to review school bond scenarios

The school bond issue is back on the agenda today for the Wake County school board's facilities committee.

The committee will discuss different bond scenarios, a preliminary step before the info is presented to the full school board and to the county commissioners at the next meeting. The scenarios would give a range of different costs and projects that could be funded.

For instance, school district staff said at the last joint meeting they'd develop scenarios that included no additional year-round schools and ones that did, including possible some conversions of traditional-calendar schools.

The committee will also discuss what major renovations entail and potential changes to the designs of M8, the new middle school that would be built on Leesville Church Road in northwest Raleigh.

Recapping the Wake County school board interviews for Nancy Caggia and Bill Fletcher

Here's a recap of the interviews today that Nancy Caggia and Bill Fletcher went through for the Wake County school board District 9 seat.

Caggia brought up her many years working on student achievement issues, including serving on the Governor's School Task Force. Caggia has been involved for many years with programs for academically gifted students, saying she's all about student achievement and effective teachers.

Caggia said she believes they need to reach each child where they are to reach proficiency, citing the need for differentiated instruction.

Some Wake County schools may need to shorten lunch periods this fall

It looks like Wake County's schools may all have at least 1,025 hours of instruction but some changes might still be needed.

Deputy Superintendent Cathy Moore said after Tuesday's school board work session presentation on the draft 2013-14 bell schedules that a survey of all the schools seemed to indicate they had more than 1,025 hours. She said she was still waiting to hear back from some schools.

Wake County school system looking at concerns from Brier Creek Elementary

Wake County school administrators say they're trying to address concerns of Brier Creek Elementary School parents who are worried about being forced to change year-round tracks or have children on different tracks.

Brier Creek's PTA has set up this online petition asking the school board to waive policy to reduce the minimum class sizes in fourth- and fifth-grades. The petition says that the school can't fund a 4th-grade teacher for the rising 3rd grade class on a given track, resulting in a track change or siblings on different tracks.

School administrators said last week that they're working on addressing the issue in the upcoming budget that will be presented March 5. They also say that the Brier Creek petition contains some errors.

Two recent studies look at academic impact of Wake County's year-round schools

Two recently published stories looking at Wake County's year-round school program raise questions about their academic benefits.

Historically, Wake has focused on capacity and not academics as being the main reason for its multi-track year-round schools. Some advocates of year-round schools have contended that this calendar would be better academically for low-income students because they wouldn’t experience learning loss from a long summer break typical of traditional schools.

But a recent study looking at Wake found no overall academic benefit for students using the year-round calendar. Another study, also focused on Wake, found that the year-round calendar can partially offset the negative academic impact of attending a crowded school.

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