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Raleigh Schools Continue Transition To Year Round Schools

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Summary: Since 1989 the Wake County District of Raleigh Schools in North Carolina have been experimenting with year round schools. In the Raleigh Schools, a year round school requires that children attend the same 180 school days, but on a non-traditional schedule. Rather than the conventional September to June calendar, with a long summer break, students and teachers in Raleigh Public Schools year round program attend on a continuous cycle of 45 days on with 3 week breaks between. Wh...

Since 1989 the Wake County District of Raleigh Schools in North Carolina have been experimenting with year round schools. In the Raleigh Schools, a year round school requires that children attend the same 180 school days, but on a non-traditional schedule. Rather than the conventional September to June calendar, with a long summer break, students and teachers in Raleigh Public Schools year round program attend on a continuous cycle of 45 days on with 3 week breaks between. While the concept of year round schools has been approved by educational experts for decades, resistance from many parents and teachers has the prevented the concept from becoming as wide spread as many would like. But Raleigh Schools' gradual implementation of the concept is gathering many devotees. From 1992 to 2004 the district added 13 more year round schools. In the 2006-2007 school year, another 5 were added. And 2007-2008 will mark the fastest growth ever when the Raleigh Schools will add 26 more schools to its year round model. 4 of these will be brand new and 22 will be transitioned over. Parents and teachers are coming to accept and enjoy the flexibility of the year round model. And the benefits to the district are meaningful. Benefits of Year Round Raleigh Schools Cost savings are the biggest benefit to the administrators of the Raleigh Schools. By rotating groups of classes in and out of buildings throughout the school year, the district can accommodate up to 33% more children, and save on both construction and operating costs. Here's how it works. A typical year round school may have 4 separate tracks of students and teachers, all on separate schedules. So three tracks will begin the school year on July 10th, while the fourth track will be on their break and have the first day of school on July 31st. Because the tracks will rotate into a different classroom each time, the school uses less classroom space, and even needs fewer school buildings to accommodate the students. While cost savings vary based on capacity and enrollment, the Raleigh Schools have experienced average savings from 20-33%. These savings roll over to books, materials, and other equipment. What about benefits for families and teachers of the Raleigh Schools? Many are surprised by how much flexibility the schedule allows. Families love the ability to take vacations during less popular travel times. And the biggest concern- childcare, is proving manageable for most. The Raleigh Schools have lists of day care providers who accommodate the year round schools. Another benefit is that students retain information better than over the long summer break. Raleigh Schools also provide remedial and enrichment tutoring during students' break time. Of course, there are challenges. Challenges of the Year Round Raleigh Schools The greatest challenges to the Raleigh Schools have been cleaning and maintenance scheduling, siblings on different tracks, the initial work of finding day care, make-up weather days that must be held on Saturdays, and interference with traditional summer activities. In spite of these challenges, the program is gaining in popularity. Many educators in the Raleigh Schools feel that the biggest challenge is getting families to give the new model a chance. As the nation calls for sweeping educational reform, Raleigh Schools think that year round schools may be the future of education.
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