The Wake Education Partnership is warning about the challenges of converting schools back to a traditional calendar.
Today, the WEP released the first issue of "Understand Your Schools," which it said will be a periodic review of current topics affecting the school system. Much of the review focuses on the impact of losing between 100 to 250 seats per school if it converts from year-round to traditional.
The spectre of reassignment is laid out in the study.
The review says there are other unresolved issues, including:
* Deciding on the appropriate response rate for any given school before changes are made. The current thinking is that no school would be converted unless a minimum of 33% of the parents respond to the online survey. But if the result is close - say 52% to 48% -- and only one-third of parents voted, several board members have already said they feel uneasy about making changes. The issue could be addressed as soon as the Jan. 19 meeting.
* The board must decide how far away it is willing to send a student if a family wants to exercise its new right to attend a different calendar than the one in their assigned school. What if a student wants a year-round calendar but the next closest school is full? What if the second- and third-closest are also full? This is the situation in parts of southwest Wake County where rapid growth has filled many year-round schools. This also could be addressed at the Jan. 19 meeting.
* If a school has some room, but not enough to accommodate demand, who gets priority - a student who already attends the school by virtue of a year-round application or a student who lives close by in the base area?
* Should feeder patterns be considered? If nearby elementary schools are on a year-round schedule, then the middle school almost has to remain on a year-round schedule to accommodate rising sixth graders. To a lesser extent, the reverse is true when elementary schools on traditional calendars feed into a year-round middle school.
* If a school is converted to a traditional calendar and exceeds capacity sooner than predicted, should it be converted back to year-round? Would it make more sense to bring in modular classrooms in a case like that? A set of eight classrooms costs about $830,000 to purchase and install.
* How long can the board wait if the process bogs down? Principals are typically told in March how many teachers they should plan on hiring for the coming year. Parents typically want to know their child's schedule by early spring at the latest so they can arrange day-care, summer camps and family vacations. The more schools that get converted, the more difficult it will be to wrap up all the questions before April.
Deleted references to Greater Raleigh Chabmer of Commerce having been involved in developing the study. The Chamber only co-sponsored the review.