Nine Wake County schools won’t change calendars in 2018 due to the uncertainty of how new state class-size limits will affect schools.
School officials said Tuesday that a proposal to convert East Wake and North Garner middle schools and Banks Road, Carver, Lockhart, Rand Road and Vance elementary schools to a traditional calendar in 2018 won’t happen now. Also no longer under consideration for a change in 2018 is a proposal to switch Lake Myra and Timber Drive elementary schools to a multi-track year-round calendar in 2018.
“It’s off the table,” school board Chairwoman Monika Johnson-Hostler said Tuesday of the changes at the nine schools.
School officials said they want to see how the new lower state-mandated class sizes will affect the district before changing calendars at any schools. Starting in the 2018-19 school year, maximum class sizes for kindergarten through third grade will drop from 24 students to between 19 and 21 students.
A team of administrators led by Joe Desormeaux, assistant superintendent for facilities, will recommend how the district should address the new class-size mandate. The solutions will be a part of the new student assignment plan being developed for the 2018-19 school year.
The new class sizes were originally supposed to begin this fall. But the changes were pushed back a year by state lawmakers after school districts complained that they might have to lay off art, music and physical education teachers to help find the money to hire the new K-3 teachers.
Wake school officials have said that even with the one-year reprieve it will be a challenge finding all the new classroom space to deal with the smaller class sizes.
Wake Superintendent Jim Merrill has said 66 elementary schools lack 286 needed classroom spaces and that it could take a year to move mobile classroom units. One way to meet the new rules, he has said, could be to have elementary classrooms of 40 students with two teachers.
The first draft of the new assignment plan won’t be released until September or October to give more time to analyze the K-3 class size impact.
Aside from the class-size changes, school assignment staff will be working on a plan to fill four new schools opening in 2018: South Garner High School, Apex Friendship Middle School, Bryan Road Elementary in Garner and Buckhorn Creek Elementary in Holly Springs.