It looks like the Wake County school board's hand is being forced in terms of what model to use for the new career technical education high school.
The school board will vote Tuesday on making the new CTE high school a standalone full-day program. The alternative would be a half-day program in which Wake would have one group of students in the morning and another in the afternoon.
For the deal to go through, the county has to sign off on it. At the last meeting of the Wake County Board of Commissioners, County Manager David Cooke made it known to commissioners which option county staff prefers.
"From the county standpoint, it would be important that the high school meet capacity needs," Cooke said.
Cooke added that it would only benefit the county if it were a full-day school.
In a full-day program, Wake could hold 700 sophomores, juniors and seniors or 775 juniors and seniors. In this approach, the students would take their CTE courses and regular high school courses on the campus.
In the half-day model, students would take high school courses at their regular high school and the technical courses at the CTE campus. This model would let Wake serve 1,400 juniors and seniors.
A standalone program would increase Wake's capacity. A half-day program would not since the students would still be going to their regular high school.
Staff had said it could cost between $1.19 million and $2.1 million annually to transport students between the two schools in the half-day program.
One of the proponents of the half-day program has been school board member Jim Martin, who has raised concerns that operating a full-day program could result in the students being isolated. He has said he's worried that the CTE high school could become a dumping ground for students.
When the school board approved the concept of forming a CTE high school in April, one of the questions left undecided was whether it should be a half-day or full-day standalone program.
While acknowledging the county's concern about increasing capacity through a full-day standalone model, school staff said that's not the only reason they're recommending it over the half-day model.
Staff said that the time lost spent by transporting students to and from their base school would cut into instructional time, including the time needed for labs for the technical courses. They also brought up the additional cost of providing bus service in a half-day program.
Staff also said that running a half-day program would necessitate running until 4 p.m. or 5 p.m., cutting into the ability of Wake Tech to use it for its own classes or for community use.