The opening all new Wake County elementary and middle schools on a multi-track year-round calendar may not officially be part of the next school construction program.
This set of draft capital planning program issues approved by the school board's facilities committee on Tuesday omits any reference of opening all new elementary and middle schools on a year-round calendar.
For a comparison, look at this version that school staff presented to the school board in February. It included the wording from the agreement approved by the school board and county commissioners that was used to develop the $970 million bond issue that went before voters in 2006.
As you guys recall, the provision for opening new schools on the year-round calendar and the conversion of 22 schools to year-round generated a lot of controversy and a lawsuit.
With the recession and the slowdown in growth, enrollment totals haven't reached what was projected at many year-round schools. That helped lead to some schools being converted back to a traditional calendar and others going to a single-track year-round calendar.
The board also opted to open some new schools, such as Walnut Creek Elementary and Mills Park Middle, on a traditional calendar. It also looks like Richland Creek Elementary will be opening as its modular campus this year and use a traditional calendar.
The draft planning issues will now go to the full school board for approval. If it passes there, then it goes to the commissioners for their approval.
Commissioners had backed increased use of year-round schools as part of the 2006 bond issue to reduce construction costs. But when parents complained about the calendar, commissioners withheld money from the bond issue to cover conversion costs. This resulted in the school system tapping into its reserves to cover the costs.
Back to the draft planning issues that got the nod Tuesday. There is one change from what's listed in the document.
The committee dropped bullet seven under new schools that said "for schools built in areas not having adequate signals from WCPSS' cell-phone provider, funding shall be allotted for in building repeaters and related equipment to ensure emergency phones and communications take place in an effective manner."
The committee agreed that above provision should apply to all schools, not just new ones.