By a 5-3 vote, the Wake County school board has preliminarily agreed to go with the staff recommendation to open Walnut Creek Elementary School in Southeast Raleigh as a traditional calendar.
Keith Sutton, Anne McLaurin, Kevin Hill, Chris Malone and Debra Goldman voted to open Walnut Creek as a traditional-calendar school. John Tedesco, Deborah Prickett and Carolyn Morrison voted to open it as a year-round school, which was the original staff recommendation three years ago.
Supporters of making it traditional cited the childcare costs on the low-income families that will make up the majority of the families at Walnut Creek. Supporters of year-round focused on the additional capacity the calendar would provide.
The final vote, as with all others that will take place today, will be next Tuesday.
I'll have more details later.
They're going through this handout, more or less in order. While they split on Walnut Creek, which is No. 1, they unanimously backed items 2-4.
They jumped to item 30 to talk about Carnage. They agreed to back that one too even though severeral parents opposed being reassigned from Carnage Middle to East Wake Middle.
Laura Evans, senior director for growth and planning, opened the calendAr talk by giving three reasons for making Walnut Creek a traditional-calendar school:
* As part of the comprehensive plan in 2012, they're planning to reassign nodes to Bugg Elementary that surround the school but don't go there. While there's been talk of making Bugg the traditional-calendar opt out for Walnut Creek, Evans said there wouldn't be enough seats in 2012.
* Walnut Creek will have a high percentage of low-incoem families who generally prefer the traditional calendar.
* The bulk of Walnut Creek's students are coming from East Garner Elementary, which is a year-round school. People who like the calendar can apply to stay there.
Board member Carolyn Morrison asked why low-income families prefer the traditional calendar. Board member Keith Sutton pointed to the cost of track out childcare in year-round. He also said many low-income families use older siblings to provide childcare, which would be a problem if the kids are on different calendars.
Board member Deborah Prickett pointed to the letters the Coalition of Concerned Citizens for African American Children had sent touting the academic benefits of year-round calendars during the debate over putting the Leesville schools back on a traditional calendar.
Board member John Tedesco pointed to the projected growth in central Raleigh and said that they need the additional capacity from year-round at Walnut Creek to help allow more kids to be sent to schools closer to where they live.
Tedesco also brought up the issue of promising voters in the last bond issue about opening elementary and middle schools on a year-round calendar.
(While not mentioned today, I had asked Tedesco why he had voted to open Mills Park Middle as a traditional-calendar school. He said the difference is that the area around Mills Park didn't have enough traditional-calendar choices while Walnut Creek families can go to Bugg.)
School board chairman Ron Margiotta said he had recently talked with County Commissioner Tony Gurley, who was chair when the last bond passed. He said Gurley told them it was okay to open new schools on a traditional calendar.
Tedesco responded that while they might be free from county commissioner obligations, they might not be free from public obligation,
Tedesco, Prickett and Morrison voted for year-round. Morrison later explained that she thought the academic benefits that students can get from tutoring during the intersession breaks made it a better chocie for Walnut Creek.