The issue of whether siblings could be accommodated on Track 4 decided which Wake County year-round schools would make the move to a single track for the next two school years.
Click here for this handout that shows how the 14 underutilized year-round schools were evaluated by staff. Inability to accommodate siblings was cited for eight of the nine schools as to why a move to a single-track year-round calendar wasn't considered feasible.
Laura Evans, senior director for Growth and Planning, said inability to accommodate siblings reflected challenges caused by moving multi-track year-round schools to a single-track calendar.
Since schools making the move to single track would operate only Track 4, they had to make sure that the feeder middle schools or elementary schools were either on the traditional calendar or had enough Track 4 seats to accommodate siblings.
In addition, Evans said there was another wrinkle for middle schools when it came to teacher certification. Most middle school teaching teams have four teachers, one certified for each of the core areas. You can also have two-teacher teams as long as the teachers are certified to teach more than one of the core subjects.
Evans said some middle schools just didn't have enough teachers with the right certification to handle the changes.
For instance, Evans said they were able to recommend moving Rand Road and Timber Drive elementary schools to a single track because North Garner Middle plans to aggressively adjust its teaching teams to accommodate Track 4 siblings.
As for Alston Ridge and Highcroft, Evans said things were a little easier because they feed into Mills Park Middle, which is on the traditional calendar.
The only school that didn't have a sibling issue but still wasn't recommended for a change was Wakefield Elementary. The reasons cited there were immediate crowding, projected growth in the planning area and the potential for out-of-base students to return to increase crowding. More than 200 kids in the base don't go to the school.
The sheet lists Wakefield's projected enrollment at 693 students with a single track/traditional-calendar capacity of 713. But Evans said so many students have registered at Wakefield that there are already above 713 students for next year.
Let's look at the five schools that were recommended and approved for the change: Alston Ridge, Highcroft, Lake Myra, Rand Road and Timber Drive elementary schools.
The sheets show they're all projected to be below their single-track capacity next year, can accommodate siblings, have a high staff survey approval rates for going to Track 4 and their principals support the change.
One difference among the five schools is that Highcroft is listed as being projected to be over 100 percent of capacity within the next five years. During yesterday's board meeting, Evans said staff felt Highcroft could "survive" being on a single track for the next two years.
The evaluation form also lists what percentage of parents, among those who responded, who said they're likely to transfer out. David Holdzkom, assistant superintendent for evaluation and research, said people are more likely to say on a survey they'll do something than actually do it.
The sheet also lists the projected savings for each of the five schools with the largest being from Highcroft. Chief Business Officer David Neter said the savings come from lower staffing, utilities and transportation costs.
Superintendent Tony Tata said the change would be for two years instead of just one because that's what the principals at the five schools wanted. Tata said the principals didn't feel it would made sense to go through all these changes just for one year.
The two-year pilot became an issue because school board member John Tedesco asked about the possibility of only doing it for one year at Timber Drive.
Tedesco said Timber's underenrollment stems from the policies of the old board. The walk zone around Timber isn't assigned to the school with staff explaining that's because it had opened as an all-application school.
It appears that Tedesco expects a lot of the people who live near Timber to try to go there under the new student assignment model. The new plan would go into effect in 2012-13 but the pilot would still be in effect then.
Tedesco didn't raise any issues about changing Rand Road.
School board member Chris Malone said he hadn't gotten any reaction from people about changing Lake Myra. He said supported the staff recommendation.
School board chairman Ron Margiotta said he was all for changing Alston Ridge and Highcroft. He said the lack of enrollment at the schools had limited what they could offer students.
There are still a lot of details to resolve.
For instance, the principals have to set up a fairly large intersession program in July now that no students will begin class on Track 4 until Aug. 1. Tata said they felt they needed to do this because they were making the change so late in the process with families who thought they'd be starting class July 11 on tracks 1, 2 and 3.