Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Year-Round High Schools? The Wake County BOE responds

Sometimes these columns write themselves. Today’s is an example. Last Thursday’s post, How about year-round high schools in Wake County, drew response from members of the Wake County Public Schools System Board of Education, the elected leaders whose primary responsibility is to keep parents happy over re-assignment and to plan and build more schools. That’s a joke, of course, but the feeling of many. So, without further ado, little fanfare and no responses:

Christine Kushner, Chair of the BOE:We have had discussions with staff on this idea, and I will be glad to forward to facilities and academic folks to consider.  I appreciate your continued interest in our school system, as well as the creative thinking.  Please do stay in touch!”

Bill Fletcher, the only Republican on the BOE: “I appreciate your commitment to an idea.  Let me share a few other thoughts.
  • One of the challenges of having multiple calendars is the lack of alignment across grade configurations.  Any trimester strategy would need to have K-12 application.  And then there is the concern about alignment with college calendars.  
  • Companion question is the employment schedule for teachers.  Will teachers work two trimesters, or all three trimesters?  Do they get vacation or time for professional development?  
  • Could students go to all three trimesters?  If so, capacity gains evaporate.  
  • There is movement to provide "credit by demonstrated mastery" for high school students, so seat time could become less relevant for some students.  
  • Observers of our typical student assignment discussions will point to the extreme difficulty of changing a calendar, even a modest change from traditional to an existing year round track.  
  • Would such a dramatic change in schedule improve educational outcomes for kids?  That is ultimately the bottom line.
Tom Benton, Vice Chair, BOE: “Do present calendar laws allow for these types of calendar changes?”

More on this subject tomorrow including responses to these puzzling questions and comments.
-------------------- word of the day
periphrasis (noun) [puh-rif-ruh-sis]: the use of an unnecessary long or roundabout form of expression; circumlocution

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