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UPDATE NOV. 20 

The Board of Education approved the 2019-20 Student Enrollment Plan. There were no substantial changes affecting current students from the previous board meeting, which can be found below. The Board did approve assignment changes to some undeveloped areas of the county. Thank you to everyone who participated in this process. Find your base school assignment and your application school options for the 2019-20 school year. Please note the address look-up tool has not yet been updated to include changes to school assignments for some undeveloped areas. 

If you have any questions, please contact the Student Assignment Office at 919-431-7333 or find the Student Assignment representative for your area.

East Cary Middle School is proposed to change to a traditional calendar in 2019-20.

Multi-track year-round schools are designed to make better use of school buildings by allowing them to accommodate more students.

However, East Cary is under-enrolled as a year-round school.

Converting to a traditional calendar would make better use of the facility, as well as attract families in the area who prefer the traditional calendar.

Learn more.

Share your feedback about this proposal below.

156 Responses

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Shawna Schnorr about 1 year ago

I am strongly opposed to changing East Cary to year-round. It's a great location+calendar pairing for Adams Year-Round. Year-round schools are great, and other year round schools are far away.

Instead, you should be trying to get more families on year round. Increase the number of assignment areas that are assigned to East Cary as their base.

The school district does a very poor job of promoting year-round schools. So many families don't understand how they work and have a hard time visualizing how it could be great for them.

Making a real STEM program at East Cary could also attract students. Nine hours per year of STEM elective hardly makes it a STEM school.

Having East Cary start at a reasonable time instead of 7:00am aka high school time could also attract people. Right now we're talking about one kid at school at 7am and another at school at 8:45, right next to each other.

Let's try some of these ideas before changing the calendar. Thanks, Shawna

22 Votes
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Kent Dezendorf 12 months ago

For what is is worth, I know Shawna meant to put she is opposed to moving ECMS to traditional.

9 Votes
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Shawna Schnorr 11 months ago

Yes, thanks Kent, I am opposed to changing East Cary FROM year-round to traditional.

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Elizabeth OConnor about 1 year ago

I think this is a terrific idea!!! ECMS has been underenrolled for so long. Why not make it more desirable by changing calendar? If folks do not like ARMS being a year-round middle school, they will have the opportunity now to apply here. Win-win!!!

6 Votes
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Leslie Douglas, Owner/Realtor of The Douglas Realty Group 12 months ago

It's not a win-win. Any family that wants to be in the year round program & used to have East Cary as a base will now have to go to Lufkin Middle School in Apex. This is literally a 30 minute drive from my house. By eliminating East Cary as a Year Round option you are putting a burden on families that are eager to be in the YR program because there isn't another YR Middle School in all of Cary. This isn't win-win.

19 Votes
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Kim Moser 12 months ago

ECMS is under-enrolled for reasons unrelated to its year round status. I won't go into details, but instead of changing it to traditional, the school board should get to the root of the problem. Making it traditional is NOT the appropriate solution to a much bigger problem actually causing the under-enrollment, not to mention teacher, student, and parent dissatisfaction. This year was going to be our last year there but, now, my son will have to go there for 7th & 8th grades, after being at Reedy Creek Middle for one little 6th grade year. Very disappointing.

13 Votes
 
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Shawna Schnorr 11 months ago

Leslie, I agree. Also, take a look - it's not just the eastern side of Cary that East Cary is serving. It's serving southern and western Raleigh as well.

What's worse is that in the original version of the address lookup tool, we (near Lake Wheeler Rd. & Tryon Rd.) would have had a choice of Lufkin Rd. and N. Garner (track 4 only), both too far. Looking today, our track 2 family only has the choice of N. Garner!!!!! Not only changing tracks, but now not even a choice to go to school with his cohort.

2 Votes
 
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Shawna Schnorr 11 months ago

Kim, ++for calling out a true and difficult issue. If the school lived up to it's potential, many more would be going there. Don't make it a problem for MORE families.

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Re Be about 1 year ago

East Cary should remain year-round. Our base school is West Cary (traditional) and our calendar option WAS East Cary. Now WCPSS expects us to go 20 minutes to Salem Middle School?! That is outrageous! East Cary might not be to capacity now, but it will be soon

14 Votes
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Rita Sangani about 1 year ago

I have same problem. My base school is West Cary to.

1 Vote
 
 
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Rachel Lehman about 1 year ago

For what other reasons is ECMS under-enrolled? Is it all about the calendar option or are there other areas that also need improved to make it more attractive?

10 Votes
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Megan Dezendorf 12 months ago

It could be any number of reasons......facilities, leadership, location, programs, etc. The fact that East Cary keeps popping up every year to be changed to traditional is just frustrating because the main reason given is that it's a year-round school. The YR calendar could be a factor but it seems to be the only one that anyone ever focuses on for the reason that East Cary is under-enrolled.

5 Votes
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Amy Walling 12 months ago

One of the reasons is the current base school map includes small areas that are 1) far from the school: ex. outside of 540 near 54 and 2) non-populated areas: SAS soccer park, the Fenton, and Cary Towne Center. http://wwwgis2.wcpss.net/pdf_maps/BASE_MAP_1819_402.pdf A large part of the school is there because they use it as their year round option.

4 Votes
 
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Shawna Schnorr 11 months ago

I think they could definitely also take a look at school start time (make it closer to sister school Adams). Let's make the STEM program stronger as well.

2 Votes
 
 
 
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Kent Dezendorf about 1 year ago

East Cary should remain year-round. The problems with under-enrollment have nothing to do with it being a year round school. The programs are not as diverse or enriching as other schools. Additionally starting & ending the school day so early is a hardship on the students and parents. Currently the main selling point is it is year-round. Making East Cary traditional makes this LOSE-LOSE-LOSE!!!

So many have found year round is such an amazing option for our children and families and it is exhausting to constantly feel treated as an afterthought when it comes to school options. We need to focus on bringing more schools into the year round fold (including high-schools) and improving the schools themselves.

27 Votes
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Re Be 12 months ago

I agree with everything Kent wrote, especially the idea of adding more year round high schools. My child can not handle traditional calendar years. He burns out halfway through the year, and the poor kid needs a break. He's not an adult yet, and we shouldn't expect our children to have the stamina of an adult doing the daily grind. Every time my child tracks-in he is excited to learn more, unlike traditional calendars where he's resentful toward the latter half of the year.

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kelley flynn about 1 year ago

I would like for my daughter to stay at East Cary no matter what calendar they choose to follow. We have chosen East Cary because of the year round calendar, would she be able to stay if they change to traditional if she is a rising 7th grade or will this choice be offered ONLY to the rising 8th graders?

0 Votes
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Matt Dees admin 12 months ago

Hi Kelley. Is she attending as a calendar application student or do you live in the base? And have you looked up your address to see your proposed 2019-20 assignment? http://wwwgis2.wcpss.net/addressLookup/proposalFirstDraft/

0 Votes
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kelley flynn 12 months ago

She is a calendar application student and the new year round assignment would be Lufkin Road. We live in Raleigh near the fairgrounds and Lufkin is just an unrealistic choice for us. We have been happy with ECMS while her sister has attended and would like for continue it as the middle school for our younger daughter that started there this year. If they change to traditional that is one thing, but please allow the families that are already attending have the choice to continue.

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Rita Sangani about 1 year ago

I am strongly opposed to changing East Cary to year round.

2 Votes
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kelley flynn 12 months ago

It already is year round.

1 Vote
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Rita Sangani 12 months ago

sorry, i mean to traditional calender.i like year round school.and my son also like year round.

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Rachel Lehman about 1 year ago

I recommend doing for East Cary what was done for Reedy Creek Middle School. Improve the magnet programs and electives, bring in new leadership and energy and within 2-3 years the school could be at capacity like Reedy Creek. Make it a more attractive option and families will flock to it. Make the start times more accessible for families. Don't just force students to move to populate a school that is under-enrolled without changing other underlying issues.

32 Votes
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Re Be 12 months ago

100% agree with Rachel. Improve the program, and make the start time more accessible!

13 Votes
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Kent Dezendorf 12 months ago

This is so true. It seems missing the problems with the school leadership are being overlooked or missed somehow. Why are we afraid to solve the actual problem and instead making this about calendar options? IMHO year round is the only redeeming thing about ECMS. In fact, before enrolling our eldest there this year I was warned by many different friends that ECMS has declined, specifically citing the administration, which is why they had pulled or fought to not have their children go there.

Please fix the actual problem. Honestly, that is even more important than what school calendar it is on.

17 Votes
 
 
 
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MaryBeth Duprey 12 months ago

I am thrilled by the prospect of ECMS changing to a traditional calendar. I have 3 children and one of them is on a year round calendar while the others are in traditional calendar schools (one being a private preschool). I am also excited by the possibility of ECMS filling up. I am hopeful that having everyone on the same calendar would mean that students in advanced math classes will have a teacher for Math 2. With all the kids split up on tracks, I think that kids have had to do math on the computer without teacher support. My own child had to do that in 6th grade last year and it would have been a way better experience to have a human teacher. But there were only 2 kids in her track in that math class so that was the delivery mechanism. This year there is a Math 1 class with a teacher but I was bracing myself for next year to be Math 2 on a computer. The prospect of pooling the Math 2 kids and maybe having a teacher for them next year has me crossing my fingers that this will help that situation. It's STEM school after all and I think the M stands for math :)

4 Votes
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Shawna Schnorr 11 months ago

For a lot of families, it would mean kids not on the same calendar.

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Shawna Schnorr 11 months ago

Not sure what you mean by Math 1 and Math 2 (Math 6 and Math 6+ ?), but I think ECMS decided not to continue with the experiment they were doing in math last year. Does anyone know more?

0 Votes
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MaryBeth Duprey 11 months ago

The math courses offered in middle schools are standard across the county. Math 6, 6+ and Compacted Math 6/7+ are the options if a student is not coming in already SSA. My daughter took 6/7+ as a 6th grader and now is in Math 1 for high school credit in 7th, and next year will be in Math 2. That was what I was referring to. She takes Math 1 with an 8th grade teacher this year. Next year, it may have to be via computer as was the 6th grade year. My point being I am hopeful that increased enrollment would bring more students taking Math 2 in 8th grade so there would be an actual class with a human teacher. My daughter is doing great at ECMS and we already have kids on both year round and traditional calendar. I can see the merits of year round, but I have not found it to be transformative in a way that warrants my loyalty. The teachers and the administration staff are working hard at ECMS and they have my loyalty. I hope that the changes, whatever they may be will help to strengthen the school.

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Ekaterina Goreva 12 months ago

For our family changing East Cary to a traditional school will mean that our closest Davis Drive Middle school will be replaces for us with East Cary and 20 minute drive. This does not sound as a good news.

4 Votes
 
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Leslie Douglas, Owner/Realtor of The Douglas Realty Group 12 months ago

Don't change East Cary to Traditional w/o fixing the under-lying problems at the school. Poor leadership, a lack of electives, too early of a start time & the appearance of the school is lacking compared to the new schools being built…all of these factors contribute to the under enrollment at the school. Work on changing these problems, NOT the calendar! A new principal was installed at East Cary a few years ago when the school was functioning at capacity, since that time the population at the school has continually decreased year after year, as well as the test scores. If the only thing that has changed at the school is the principal, shouldn’t that be taken into consideration before changing the calendar? Take a look at the hard numbers, they speak for themselves. Also the STEM program at the school is weak, with minimal electives & not a school wide effort on the STEM program. In addition, the early start time of the school (7:30am) is also not normal for a middle school. Most middle schools starts at 8:15am, a full 45 minutes after East Cary…WHY? This is not appealing for most parents considering it’s forcing some kids to have to be getting on their bus at 6am & could be contributing to the population decline. Furthermore, East Cary Middle School has not had a facelift in years. The school is dark & dingy and overall doesn’t have a “fun” environment to appeal to parents. I personally attended this school & it has been bought and paid for by the county for many years. Why do we pour money into building new schools, yet we can’t give East Cary a facelift to help increase enrollment at the school? It’s a small investment that could make a great impact. This is a poor use of county dollars.

I’ll also note that overall, the county does a HORRIBLE job promoting the YR program. Take a look at WCPSS.net & there's not even a tab to click on to find out more about the year round program?! (see the screen shot attached) How are new parents never exposed to the YR program supposed to know what the YR program is about if there's no information out there for them? We have families moving into our area every day from different parts of the country & they have no clue what it means for their kids to go YR because they’ve never see it before. I’ve had parents ask me, “do your kids go to school EVERYDAY?”! They don’t understand the process and that my kids go to school the same amount of days as kids on the traditional calendar. The county is not selling the year round program, so how do you expect to keep enrollment up at any of these schools? I also think the county needs to start looking more long term. I’m a Realtor & we add a kindergarten classroom worth of children to our population every day whether its via people moving into our county or people that already live here having babies & growing their families. With the exponential population growth we’re predicting to come in the future years, why would we eliminate a year round option, which when performing at capacity, has the ability to serve more families and cuts down on the need to build more schools?

If you change East Cary to a traditional calendar, you're eliminating the one & only Year Round Middle School option in the entirety of Cary, which equates to sending all of the families that want the Year Round program to schools that are 20-30 minutes away by car...can you imagine what the bus times/routes will be? Under this plan, we're supposed to go to Lufkin Middle, this is 11 miles away & will take me 30 minutes to drive in my car. Lufkin is not far from Salem Middle or from West Lake Middle and Lufkin has it's own under enrollment issues. If you were going to change East Cary or Lufkin, why not change Lufkin to traditional as there are other year round options within proximity to that school? There are NO other options for East Cary families on the north side of Cary. Why is it ok for families on the southern side of the county to have year round options, but not give any YR options for families on the north side of Cary? My husband works from home & for him to take my kids to school, it'd be a hour drive round trip? That's insane...I could be half way to Wilmington in that amount of time! You are putting a burden on families that want to participate in the YR program. I feel as if you’re actually taking our choice as a family away from us & my kids NEED the year round program! Under this plan, we’d have to choose between an hour roundtrip commute every day & getting our kids the instruction they need to excel at school. My son, while he excels at Math, struggles with reading. He needs the year round instruction to give him the best chance at being successful at school. The breaks he gets in the year round program give him the opportunity to take a break without loosing all of the information he just learned and then he’s excited to go back to school after the breaks & learn more new things/see his friends, etc. I can’t imagine the kind of struggles we will face if he has to be home all summer without any breaks throughout the year or the amount of arguments we’ll have in a 30 minute car ride every morning to just get to school. It’s a lose-lose situation to have to choose between the year round program & an hour round trip commute I’ll have every morning.

Overall, KEEP EAST CARY YEAR ROUND!!!

27 Votes
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Heather Perez 12 months ago

Also, I love YR as well; but right now my daughter gets on the bus at 5:57 for a 7:30 start time to go to East Cary. So yes, the commute stinks. We need more YR options, but I don't know if East Cary is the right choice.

3 Votes
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Leslie Douglas, Owner/Realtor of The Douglas Realty Group 12 months ago

And that commute is absolutely ridiculous. If the start time at East Cary would change to a normal time for Middle School (8:15am), would you be comfortable keeping EC on the YR Schedule?

4 Votes
 
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Shawna Schnorr 11 months ago

Leslie, don't forget East Cary is the year-round option for an area that includes a good chunk of Raleigh.

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Laura Oates 11 months ago

Leslie - you made all the points I was planning on making but probably much better stated than I would have! Our oldest 2 went to ECMS & we managed through the principal transition but I was very disappointed in our last couple years there!

1 Vote
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Pret Leaf 11 months ago

This comment is incredibly important. I have been beyond disappointed with the administration at East Cary. The school is not a STEM magnet at all. Having a 30 minute STEM class sometimes, does not make a quality STEM academy. My child currently has the worst math teacher we could have possible imagined. I hate to say that, but it is the absolute truth. If this is a STEM academy, how is the school not able to get licensed math teachers????

The interior of several of the buildings look awful. Looker contents are all over the floor. There was broken furniture in the 7th grade building. And the teacher classrooms, well, that is proof if what is happening at the school. The rooms are cluttered, messy and a nightmare for a typical distractable middle school student. I love WCPSS. I have been so disappointed with my child's education that I was secretly glad we might be going traditional in hopes of an administrator change; however, Leslie was spot on in the post. East Cary needs a change, but I do not think it is a calendar change. WCPSS you asked us to buy into the year round middle school STEM model and now you want to take that away and do a major redistricting, that's incredibly disheartening and major cause of distrust between the community and the school system.

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Leslie Douglas, Owner/Realtor of The Douglas Realty Group 12 months ago

I also must say that I feel like I foresee an end goal of changing Adams to a traditional calendar school in the future based on this plan. The plan did not increase Adams' base and in fact took away Adams as an option for a lot of families currently attending Adams, which will therefore lead to further population decrease at Adams. If you wanted to increase the attendance at Adams, the base should have been increased. However, I feel like you just left Adams alone for the time being to keep the focus on East Cary. If you change East Cary to traditional, then why would parents elect to enroll their students at Adams on the year round program only to have to switch to a traditional calendar for Middle School? They'll probably just by-pass Adams as an option and go for a traditional calendar elementary to not screw up their family lives, therefore leading to a continued decrease in the Adams population in future years. Which in turn will only force you to bring up changing Adams to a traditional calendar option in future re-assignment plans. Why does it feel like your eliminating the year round program from Cary schools? Other than Adams, there's only one other true YR elementary school in all of Cary, which is Turner Creek. There are two other schools on a modified calendar, but because they only offer one track, their school doesn't get utilized the way a true YR calendar does. This plan feels like a silent way to systematically eliminate year round schools from Cary.

11 Votes
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Sara Sherman 12 months ago

Last year's school assignment proposal tried to move more people into Adams and it ultimately was taken out of the proposal. We were included in that and were glad to get to stay at our original traditional calendar school. I'm married to a high school teacher so I will always want my kids on traditional, but I do understand the pro's of YR for many people. While some in-filling and higher-density redevelopment is still possible in that area of Cary it is mostly built up, there just aren't going to be LOTS of new neighborhoods built nearby to fill the under-filled schools. It's not like the newer areas where lots of undeveloped land remains and LOTS of new construction can happen.

3 Votes
 
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Laura Oates 11 months ago

Again I completely agree Leslie. We were an Adams Elem family for 10 years over 3 kids. LOVED that school but I also foresee their calendar being forced to change if the ECMS calendar change occurs. WCPSS needs to consider this as well. If they wish to fully utilize school space year round schools should be the priority really!

1 Vote
 
 
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Laura Langenbach 12 months ago

As recently as 5 years ago, East Cary Middle was a very highly sought after school, filled to capacity. East Cary was on a year round schedule then as it is now, but now the school is suffering from low enrollment. The school board needs to look at why the enrollment has dropped. It does not seem that the calendar is the primary issue. From talking to neighbors who's children attended East Cary Middle, it seems that there was a change in the administration at the school that precipitated the changes. Whether or not the school board changes the calendar at East Cary Middle School, they need to address the issues that caused enrollment to drop.

30 Votes
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Rachel Lehman 12 months ago

Yes! I 100% agree with Laura's comment. WCPSS, please take a hard look at WHY ECMS is underenrolled and make the necessary changes. Parents at ECMS I'd love to hear your input--what changes need to be made for this school to be more successful?

11 Votes
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Kim Moser 12 months ago

AGREE! See my most recent comment.

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Tracie Walker 12 months ago

Our new assignment is Lufkin when ECMS is just across the street. That's unacceptable - my kid can walk to school now but next year, we'll have to bus him across town? Changing start and end time has my vote as well. Please HELP parents that have children in other schools vs. all of these erroneous start/end times! Science and medical communities support children having more sleep!

I also agree with what others have said here already about ECMS leadership. I've heard nothing good about the principal that has been in place at ECMS for the last three years, not just from parents (take a look at GreatSchools.org) but from staff that are there. I think the mass exodus from that school has nothing to do with calendars or maps - it's starts with the school administration and it trickles down into the classroom.

Reedy Creek did an complete 180 when they were in a similar situation as ECMS - bad principal, bad reputation, bad scores. But they got a new principal who actually cared, rolled up their sleeves with a bunch of parents to make a change and now that's a magnet school that's on the upswing! And it has better bell schedule (8:15 - 3 (I think that's it)).

Keep ECMS year round. This side of Cary needs a YR middle school and Cary families should be assigned to it, not a school in Apex. But something needs to be done about the administration.

18 Votes
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ARATI KIRTIKAR 12 months ago

And Tracie, we will be bused in from 6 miles away when they move our base from DDMS ( 1.5 mile away for us) to ECMS. I am really at a loss to understand the logic of this assignment plan!

4 Votes
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Shyamala Mahadevan 12 months ago

My exact thoughts. DDMS is 1.5 miles away for us and they have proposed East Cary which is across town

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Vladimir Mitchev 12 months ago

Our family is strongly opposed to this change, ECMS should stay an year-round school. According to the proposed draft, our students will have to go to Raleigh (from Morrisvile)? in order to keep the calendar option; that is not acceptable. The year-round calendar at ECMS has been great for us, as was the YR elementary school our kids attended. The year-round calendar is much better for the students' learning development and knowledge accumulation, as recent research studies suggest. It is about time the agrarian economy school calendar model be abandoned and all elementary and middle schools be on an year-round calendar. This is the practice in Asia, and currently European countries are considering shortening the summer break and going YR. This is also more convenient and less costly for the majority of parents as long summer breaks are hard to fill in with activities and very expensive when both parents work.

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Amanda Wilkes 12 months ago

I recently moved to wake county specifically Cary and was very excited to find out there was a year round Elementary and Middle school near by as I have children at both. I tried very hard to get both of them in on time and succeeded. I was even lucky enough to get them on the same track. Year round schools are important to our family. We really like the schedule for several reasons one in particular are our work schedule. We can not afford to do camps every week all summer long and also do not have family in the area for them to stay with. With the small breaks and shorter summers my husband and I can work out schedules temporarily so that someone is home with them, but we could not make that happen for months at a time during the long summers traditional schools have. Also we feel the shorter more frequent breaks also give our children a mental break but isn't long enough for them to forget everything then get loaded with info all over again. Even though we are new we really like the schools and my children are thriving already, they previously really struggled at their schools in Durham. The change in schedule would force us to seek out another school and would uproot them and we'd have to start all over again. The majority of the parents with kids at the year round schools choose to be there and I know I had to fill out an application and go through a whole process just to get in there. I do not think we would do all of that if we didn't feel passionate about having the year round schedule. Please do not change the schedule. The only thing I'd like to see change with East Cary is the hours I'd like them to start a little later like the hours at Lufkin. Both my kids schools are near each other and both are near home. I would not want my one of kids to have to bus all the way to Lufkin. So many kids go from Adams to East Cary it just makes sense. to keep them the same.

Thank you, Concerned mother of an Elementary and Middle Schooler

12 Votes
 
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Katia Campos 12 months ago

East Cary Middle is our year round option (7 miles from our home). I understand the plan to change East Cary Middle for the traditional calendar. However I don't understand the new year round option for us: it will be a school in Raleigh ( Pine Hollow is more than 12 miles from our home !!!) for me it is not a option at all. Why our option is not Salem Middle if it is only 6 miles from our home?

4 Votes
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Re Be 12 months ago

whoa! that's crazy Katia. Our situation is reversed! ECMS is 1.5 miles from us (we want to keep it YR and we'd like it to remain our option school) but we were assigned Salem (14 miles!!!) and not Pine Hollow (which is only 8.5 miles away). It's starting to feel like Draft 1 Assignment Plan was randomly picked out of a hat.

3 Votes
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Kelly Perry 12 months ago

I agree with Katia. The reassignment of students who live in the Cary/Morrisville area from East Cary to Pine Hollow is illogical.

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Katia Campos 12 months ago

For the comments posted so far it seems that East Cary be Year Round School is not an issue. The concerns is other related (administration, start time, electives options...). We want a better school. Make East Cary better and there will be plenty students to enroll it!!!

11 Votes
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MaryBeth Duprey 12 months ago

I definitely am all for a better school but what has to be kept in mind is that the people they are trying to pull into this assignment area, are all kids who go to traditional calendar schools-none of them want to be year round. Adams is the only YR school in this area of Cary. Cary Elem, Weatherstone, Kingswood, Briarcliff, Northwoods-all traditional calendar elem schools.....

3 Votes
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Megan Dezendorf 12 months ago

If East Cary is kept YR, the assignment area would have to switch to whatever other school they try to switch to traditional, so East Cary would not be pulling students who don't want to be YR. East Cary is the only YR Middle School option in Cary. The alternatives, Salem & Lufkin, are both in Apex and are located within a few miles of each other. It would make more sense to change one of those schools to a traditional calendar and leave a YR option in Cary. The 5th graders from Adams went to 13 different middle schools last year so East Cary is not just pulling from Adams.

1 Vote
 
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Shawna Schnorr 11 months ago

We have to think about how this can be sustainable ... We NEED more elementary classrooms than ever before with the legislative changes on top of growth. Promote year-round schools taking advantage of all the parents and parent groups who have offered to help. Flip one more elementary school "near" East Cary from traditional to year-round. You'll increase the number of "year-round" families to feed into East Cary, and have more elementary classrooms as well as filling ECMS Year-Round. Families always have the option of going to the other calendar, so while it's painful while things change (aren't these all painful changes?), the net results is more classroom space instead of less.

I would like to see the staff present an alternative to killing year-round schools and businesses that are based on being able to provide enriching trackout camps.

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Re Be 12 months ago

In Cary, yes... but We (live in Cary) had the choice between Adams and Morrisville Elementary School (our pick). Some of the kids at Morrisville would be attending ECMS if it remains YR-- so it's not just Adams alum.

3 Votes
 
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Sara Sherman 12 months ago

I support the proposed change from YR to traditional. My family's assignments are Dillard Drive Elem (trad) - East Cary - Cary High (trad). My kids are 3 years apart so attending a YR middle school would set us up for 6 years of opposite schedules. For my family, changing East Cary to traditional would be very beneficial.

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Kelly Mercier 12 months ago

I am very disappointed with this proposed change. We are in our first year at ECMS, and to change to a school even further away is not possible for our family.

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Patricia Hudson 12 months ago

I support the change from YR to Traditional. Our family is a huge fan of year round and would love to see WCPSS promote YR options more. That said, the move of ECMS to traditional is well-timed for us. I do want to push back on some of the comments being made here about ECMS. My son is in 8th grade now and he has had a fantastic academic experience at ECMS. His teachers have been superb, and the science teachers have been especially talented and inspiring. The teacher's have been responsive, approachable, and great with kids at this challenging age. My son's EOGs have reflected how well he's mastered all the curriculum. One of his STEM electives (wildlife) was more fun than the other but the offerings I've seen have been great. The AIG program has been rejuvenated with a new teacher last year. They've relaunched their Battle of the Books team which has been a wonderful program and experience. (And the principal Ms Davis came out on her Saturday morning to cheer on the team at the big local tournament which I thought was above and beyond.) We've really enjoyed the drama program as well, and the PE department is great. ECMS has a diverse population and a diverse leadership which reflect that population, which I think is fantastic.

5 Votes
 
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Heather Gates 12 months ago

I have to agree with everyone who said that the under enrollment problem is NOT related to ECMS's year round calendar. Problems with lackluster administration/leadership, bland program/elective choices, and the lack of any real STEM features (supposedly the big draw for the school) are real issues. As many other people have gone into detail on those, I won’t rehash them.

Other influences on enrollment are the reputations of other school choices (good and bad). Three years ago, Reedy Creek had a negative reputation and ECMS benefited. They now have a new Computer Science program that is a big draw. That draw coupled with ECMS's issues listed above has contributed to the enrollment drop.

Three years ago, prior to the last administration change, I had many friends who chose to send their rising 6th graders to ECMS, even though their other kids were on traditional calendars, because its previous principal had energy and excitement for the school. The band program, its director specifically, was a huge draw. There was also more emphasis on STEM education, adding STEM connections in regular classwork and electives. On paper, the offerings haven’t changed, but key faculty and staff have. The support for those programs has also changed. The key take-away is that many parents rank programs over most other factors, even if it means the inconvenience of having kids on two different schedules or transporting their kids further. Every Magnet program is proof of that. Unfortunately, if the programs don’t deliver as promised, then word gets out and enrollment suffers. And that is what happened at ECMS.

I am a Raleigh native. I went to Wake County Public Schools for my entire public education. There was only the traditional calendar available then. I remember all the hullabaloo when WCPSS started adding in year-round schools. It was a hard sell, but a logical choice. They did it to save money, because utilizing a school to its full potential is more economical than building new ones. It has been over a decade and I am still confused as to why people feel so strongly against year-round. When it came time for my children to start school, we CHOSE Adams Elementary. We also CHOSE Track 3. We have NEVER regretted either decision. We were able to take vacations and trips off season, at lower costs, avoiding high-season crowds as well as summer’s sweltering heat. We also had many unique experiences because we could enjoy a location for longer than a few days in the fall or spring. My children enjoyed many of the multitude of camps offered through the Town of Cary and private businesses. The camps were never crowded and I didn’t have to rush to get them registered early… except in the summer when traditional school kids were filling up the rosters.

My oldest daughter has made lifelong friends, having been in classes with a core group of kids from Kindergarten through 8th grade. She is a rising 9th grader at Cary and has experienced (somewhat) of a traditional calendar summer. I asked her what her thoughts were. She said she has been bored and lonely this summer. She misses her friends that she would see at school. She also said she felt like her learning has suffered from the long break. As she put it, “it’s still there, but buried deeper than on a usual track out, so I have to dig deeper to find it.” She said she wished there was a year round high school. She said she is concerned about going to school for a long chunk time without any real breaks, other that a day here and there. To her, someone with only year-round schooling, track-outs aren’t confusing and three-week breaks are the perfect length to get a break without getting bored. To her, it’s the traditional calendar that is bizarre.

As an Adams Elementary parent, I am also aware of a proposal to make it a traditional calendar school. From the emails I have seen from the PTA, they are going to fight that change to the bitter end. We LOVE the year round calendar and don’t want either ECMS or Adams to change to traditional.

I would ask Wake County to NOT change East Cary’s (or Adams’) calendar. I would ask Wake County to not give up on year-round schools, but rather promote them for their many benefits. I would ask Wake County to truly seek out the root problems of the enrollment fluctuations, because the calendar is not the problem. Fix the school and the kids will come.

15 Votes
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Nicole Brooks 12 months ago

We love the year round calendar also for a lot of reasons. I would like to see Wake County promote the calendar's benefits more. If so many schools are over crowded, it seems logical to make more schools year round, not less.

9 Votes
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MaryBeth Duprey 12 months ago

That would make sense, if schools were using the facilities the way that would allow that to happen. ECMS doesn't rotate classrooms-it doesn't save any space to have the school as a YR vs a Traditional. Not sure if they could start doing that, but I don't see that having the school as YR does anything to help in that regard as it stands now...

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Celeste Smith 12 months ago

Exactly....

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Megan Dezendorf 12 months ago

Yes, yes, yes to all of this!!! You have a very interesting perspective with your daughter having experienced both YR and traditional. I always say that parents have to get over their memories of having a long summer as a kid to embrace the YR schedule; I hope that when this is all over, that schedule is still an option in Cary!

5 Votes
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Shawna Schnorr 11 months ago

@MaryBeth Duprey I believe ECMS doesn't rotate classrooms right now because they are underenrolled. They don't have enough students/classes to need to vacate a room when their track is out.

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Christine Dohrmann 12 months ago

I think switching a school from yr to traditional anywhere in the RTP area is a horrible idea. I recently attended to Town of Cary School of Government program, and one of the topics our class covered most was that Cary is landlocked as far as new development. However, our area is already getting an Amazon warehouse in Garner, the new Fenton development near Cary Town Center, and is a proposed location for both Amazon and Apple Headquarters. These possible opportunities, along with the RTP area becoming the new "Silicon Valley of the South" will bring additional families into our area. Since many of the town in RTP are landlocked, there is no additional space available for new schools.

On average, a year round school can accommodate up to 20-30% more students than a traditional calendar school of the same size. With an influx of population coming to RTP, how are you going to provide proper schooling for these families or attract new businesses if all of your schools are capped or over crowded?

If WCPSS switches some of these school from traditional calendar to year round, they will very likely have to switch back to yr within the next 5-10 years. Might I propose a hybrid school for some of these instance if your board sees a real need for change:

Currently, track 4 follows a traditional calendar school very closely. If you have a larger traditional calendar track, plus add an additional yr tracks 2 & 3, you can create an atmosphere that accommodates families that prefer traditional and year round within the same school, while utilizing existing structures more efficiently.

I think in these areas with explosive growth and new home construction should not be moved from traditional to yr. Changing East Cary or Adam's calendar would add to overcrowding and decrease the businesses that want to bring good jobs to our area. If we can't accommodate their families, they won't bring their jobs or taxes. Please think good and hard about this decision and speak to elected officials and business development experts before making current school less efficient in their student population.

12 Votes
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Matt Dees admin 12 months ago

Christine, regarding your question about parent groups. Glenn and I did presentations for all BACs in the late spring and early summer this year to share information about our priorities, the four pillars, and some of the complicating factors of living in a high-growth area.

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Christine Dohrmann 12 months ago

Thank you for that information. I do not recall seeing any notification of those presentations. At them, did you just present or did you actively ask for parent input and suggestions? Those are two very different things.

Matt I understand that this is a very difficult process, but I think involving parents early on, possibly through creating a parent outreach or representatives group could help in the future. These reassignment plans happen about every 2-3 years and the constant change is increasingly frustrating for families and creates an unstable environment for our communities.

There were some extremely bright and insightful parents at the meeting last night. I would have liked to see them involved in this plan before it went live.

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Jennifer Lietzke 12 months ago

I would love to see ECMS changed to a traditional calendar with the proposed rezoning. My kids are currently at our base elementary school on traditional calendar. This change would move our base middle school several miles closer, which would be great if the calendar option is changed to align with our other base schools (all traditional). However, the school also deserves new leadership and opportunities for all the students to thrive.

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Stacey Lazer 12 months ago

I currently have a 6th and 7th grader at ECMS and quite honestly, it is not the calendar year switch which I am opposed to as much as what the actual change would mean. My 7th grader would get a grandfather year to finish her middle school years where she began. However, my 6th grader would have to move schools as an 8th grader. As a former teacher and as a mother, I do not think that the board should be able to disrupt the social aspect of middle school friends or create anxiety related to staring a new school in any grade. Also, taking away bussing and making it difficult on families who would like to continue attending, is terrible. I believe that any current student (which would only include 6th and 7th graders) should be able to finish out their middle school years at the enrolled school and it could change for the rising 6th graders and beyond. All of these school changes cause stress for the children. Changes must be made, but it should begin with the new 6th graders, not students who already consider themselves a part of a certain community. Please consider allowing all middle school children to finish where they began.

8 Votes
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Jessica Gutierrez 12 months ago

I think all parents from all these schools should advocate to let the middle school students finish where they started with transportation. There is no reason these changes have to take place in one year. Give the kids two years and let them finish since we are planning for the long-term for the community.

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Tim Buck 12 months ago

My son is currently at Reedy Creek MS, which is already a traditional school. Why does he show up with East Cary MS as his base school? This doesn't fit any of the proposed reason for school change? Is the "Look up my Address" tool incorrect?

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Matt Dees admin 12 months ago

Jenn, we sent an email to the entire list we had in our system of 6-8 graders attending Reedy Creek in 2018-19. We are aware that it didn't go to everyone, and we are trying to figure out why that is. We will make another attempt to ensure everyone at Reedy Creek is notified.

2 Votes
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Christine Dohrmann 12 months ago

Matt, out of curiosity, does WCPSS have a parent group that helps give input into these drafts before they are made public? Who drafts these changes? It seems to me that it might be helpful to have parent liasons or city economic leaders involved to help draft these proposals before they go live. We seem to have a new one out every couple of years, and undoubtedly it is unnerving.

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Matt Dees admin 12 months ago

Hi Tim. We are proposing that some students who attend Reedy Creek Middle now attend East Cary Middle starting in 2019-20. This is to relieve crowding at Reedy Creek Middle, which currently has an enrollment cap.

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Jenn Smith 12 months ago

"Some" students is not being clear. I have yet to meet a Cary Elementary family that currently has RCMS as a base that is keeping RCMS under the new proposal. Families that have spent years supporting RCMS when everyone wanted to go to ECMS are being reassigned to ECMS. Considering the email notifications were spotty at best especially for our 6th grade families who are the ones impacted, I am disappointed in the overall communication about this proposal. I have reached out to our elementary school PTA and other downtown families to let them know about this big change for our area. We haven't had the growth of new neighborhoods like other parts of Wake County so this came as an unhappy surprise that so many of us lost a school we have supported for years.

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Tracie Walker 12 months ago

It might be worth taking a look how how RCMS has developed into a middle school of choice over the last few years compared to that of ECMS.

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Celeste Smith 12 months ago

I agree with so many of the parents who have previously discussed their issue with the calendar change. I CHOSE year round because it works well with our family, AND all the benefits it lends to our children. Wake county does itself a disservice when they take away those options, decreasing the amount of year round schools in the county. There was an obviuous reason the county went for the idea of the year round calendar. I know that not all families do, but for mine it really does. My kids blossom in the year round. They will get so bored having to review as much as they do at the beginning of the school year on a traditional school. Our new yr round options AREN'T even our feeder schools to middle and high, nor are they the closest to our house?!?!?!? You want my kids to go from East Cary, to our new option as North Garner??? Ridiculouly absurd!! So WHY would look at the calendar being the reason?? Wake county, get down to the real reasons that schools are under-enrolled... it is NOT the calendar... it is the programs at schools, it is the administration and teachers... GIVE ME GOOD CALENDAR OPTIONS THROUGH HIGH SCHOOL! PLEASE!

9 Votes
 
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Mahi Reddy 12 months ago

I strongly Oppose this change of converting Year Round to Traditional. I am from Cedar Bend neighborhood and every year the school board comes up with a change which causes lot of stress for working parents in planning, preparing the kids for these changes. We have been assigned to DDMS from 5 years and School board needs to stop changing the assignments for existing neighborhoods as they are already assigned instead they should assign it to new subdivisions and it will not affect them. Re-assigning our kids every year is not a good planning by the School board as we have to go thru same stress every year. School board should stop thinking of these changes every year.I request School Board to address the root issue rather changing it every year. Please STOP CHANGING !

10 Votes
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Re Be 12 months ago

that's right. Established neighborhoods should be allowed to remain. New neighborhoods don't have the same established roots. Why should new developments get priority to kick out kids who live (and have lived for years) in older neighborhoods? Uprooting established students to make way for new students makes zero sense.

4 Votes
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Jessica Gutierrez 12 months ago

I don't think they are trying to accommodate new neighborhoods. We have over-crowded schools and schools under-capacity that WCPSS is trying to balance. The school district doesn't have any vested interest in helping the new neighborhoods.

I hope we can all voice support for grandfathering all middle school students with transportation. Some neighborhoods will be changed whether it's this reassignment proposal or the next, so let WCPSS hear we can HOW they implement the changes whether it's our kid or someone else's.

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Loreal Massiah 12 months ago

comment...I am strongly opposed to changing ECMS to a Traditional calendar! Our students need stability and making a change this large especially for students who have just come to the school is unfair! I have two young students who are in Elementary school that attend year round school and it is very helpful to have all my children on the same calendar. I haven't seen an appropriate reason for this change yet. I would wonder how many of the school board members have young children and can relate!! Please stop changing the schools and negatively impacting our children....they need stability it is core to their learning and social skills.

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Christine Dohrmann 12 months ago

CHANGES ON ECONOMIC GROWTH Although our family is not slated to attend East Cary, I would like to point out that switching any schools from year-round to traditional calendars in the Cary/Apex/Morrisville areas will not provide the growing populations in this area with the school utilization that will be needed soon. All three municipalities have grown in population and in some case have become or will soon become landlocked for school space. When Fenton property is completed near East Cary, there will be an additional 800+ multi-family units adding to the Cary Town Center corridor. If headquarters for Apple or Amazon come to the RTP area, that will be mean more single and multi-family units to accommodate for new employees moving to the area. I would like to suggest WCPSS start to look at a hybrid or modified calendar track for some of these schools. Track 4 closely mimics a traditional calendar year. In some of these schools such as East Cary, having a larger “traditional track” with two other year round tracks could give families the best of both worlds, while giving the school flexibility to add more students as the population dictates. All students could have access to the same clubs and sports. WCPSS has proposed numerous school mapping and changes over the past number of years. This indecisiveness is inefficient and destabilizing to citizens and children. Many families base home purchase or rental decisions based on school assignment. Asking families to continually switch their children has a negative impact on those families, and, decreases participation in parental involvement in the schools. Schools are the number one reason many families use in making decisions to relocate to a metropolitan area, and if WCPSS can’t find a way to stabilize our current school system, our municipalities could fail to attract new businesses like Apple or Amazon. RTP is already becoming the Silicon Valley of the South, and we need to find a way to work together to adapt to these changes. We can do better and need to adopt something that offers more flexibility and stability for our current and future citizens.

8 Votes
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Re Be 12 months ago

This is right. I'd like to add to Christine's point-- we currently have classrooms in trailers almost everywhere in WCPSS, and until we can accommodate ALL children indoors, then this whole YR vs traditional debate is bogus. YR allows the buildings to accommodate more children, and I really don't see a point of traditional being an option until this (among other) criteria is met. What's the argument for traditional calendar when your child's room can be more easily blown away in a tornado or natural disaster?! The priority needs to be on their safety, and not their parents' bias for traditional calendars.

7 Votes
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Christine Dohrmann 12 months ago

Thank you for that input. I had not even considered the excessive use of trailers on school property as part of my argument, but you are absolutely right. Not only are the trailers not secure enough for inclement weather, but we have had incidents on our school campus of wildlife, including foxes, burrowing under the trailers. Neither scenario is safe for students. Thank you so much for bringing up this point.

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Shawna Schnorr 11 months ago

There is also "lockdown" security to consider as well, not to be morbid. I think the projected growth numbers alone are sufficient reason to make year-round the norm, and "traditional" the minority. I recognize there are a couple reasons families may need traditional, but we should also consider that most students fair better academically in year round. Who are we serving?

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Carrie Burns 12 months ago

To be honest, when we were notified last week, my husband and I's first reaction was that this plan makes sense. (For what it's worth: he received this email; I did not.) AS LONG AS East Cary Middle school changes to a traditional calendar, it seems logical that when their Morrisville students return closer to home and the school is already incredibly under-enrolled and RCMMS is boasting a huge, and growing base population that these "neighborhood homes" be used to help fill the vacancies.

Our oldest just began at RCMMS, one week after this notification. Is it unnerving to think that things could change during an already stressful three year time called middle school? Absolutely. Does it raise questions like how far do we invest in this current school? How do we handle easing into this transition? What happens with friends who have siblings (potential grandfathering options)? Yes. It's hard. These kids' generation were of the first wave of "neighborhood schools" who were allowed to pick their paths. We were "promised" a set pathway. Now this could change. And it's disappointing. But with an even closer school potentially changing back to traditional calendar, it also makes sense.

Middle school is three short years. Making changes while students are there is hard. However, we have siblings to follow every two years so grandfathering a current student would only mean we have two children at two different schools in two years' time. There are going to be complications any way this goes.

But having an empty school a mile away when we have to drive past it to another school doesn't make sense--if the calendars are the same. When we first started elementary school, everywhere you turned, everyone advised to go to ECMS. Within three years, the advice had turned backward and it was highly discouraged with RCMMS being highly promoted. I think it extends past the "magnet appeal." We're not sold on RCMMS's magnet philosophy. Leadership concerns at ECMS do arise for us. But if this area of concern seems to be constantly popping up, perhaps with all of these changes it's a time to look into what's going on there and maybe perhaps revamp the school and its image as a whole. If this proposal goes through, a whole new population would be arriving. Perhaps along with this new excitement of a newly, stocked school building of eager learners and supportive, but concerned, families there widespread changes to handle these transitions could also follow suit. This school has the potential to fit that neighborhood feel so many of us have grown accustomed to in elementary.

I am sorry for those families who want the local year-round option, but it seems to have been underutilized for long enough (through leadership changes) to suggest that the need for an increase in population and utilization of the building properly will pretty much only come from traditional calendar. And as a side note: if ECMS had been traditional calendar already, our child would have probably gone there instead of RCMMS in the first place.

3 Votes
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MaryBeth Duprey 12 months ago

This is great, Carrie. And to one of your last points, the school has not been full even in the past administration because my husband was hired to teach there based upon his dual certification so he could teach two subjects as that particular track did not warrant one teacher for each subject. It has gone down even further because it's pretty common across every track except 4 to have teachers doing at least two subjects. It will greatly benefit teachers, however it ends up being done, to have the school full and only teach one subject.

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Heather Gates 12 months ago

I just wanted to through some date in here. Based on the information on the WCPSS site attached is the enrollment for ECMS nine years.

2009-2010 - 842 2010-2011 - 810 2011-2012 - 725 2012-2013 - 727 2013-2014 - 828 2014-2015 - 941 2015-2016 - 1043 2016-2017 - 960 2017-2018 - 911

It looks like the STEM program was put into place around 2013. It has been year-round for the years covered in the data. School capacity is about 1200. Ms Davis, the current principal started in 7/2015. Dr. Chisnall started in 4/2012.

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Joshua Steadman 12 months ago

Hi Carrie! I'm a parent who's child is attending East Cary Middle School, and I thought I'd respond to your last paragraph. Did you mean that because of leadership changes at East Cary, it's underutilized? Or do you think it's underutilized because of the year-round option? Where are your numbers coming from? I checked publicschoolreview.com, and it quoted attendance at ECMS as having increased by 42% over the last 5 years. Is there another site you might recommend sourcing for statistics? We chose ECMS in part because of the year-round option, and correlating low attendance with being a year-round school doesn't seem to make sense with the information I have currently. Here's where I'm pulling that information: https://www.publicschoolreview.com/east-cary-middle-school-profile

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MaryBeth Duprey 12 months ago

Joshua-I am not sure what the numbers are for this year but as a rule of thumb I'd consider a track to be full if there are 4 teachers teaching 4 distinct subjects. If a track has 2-3 teachers and it used to have 4 teachers, the enrollment for that track has gone down. Track 1 enrollment has gone down. Track 2 and 3 had been with 3 teachers and now are down to two teachers for each track. I don't know that the public school review site has the most up to date enrollment numbers-but when teachers have left due to lower enrollment it's definitely really a thing (my husband is a teacher there)

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Joshua Steadman 12 months ago

MaryBeth, So what's the answer to the enrollment problem? Is it really a year-round vs. traditional problem, or something else? Year-round enrollment has been incredible for us, a two-parent working household. It's allowed us to give more time to our kids when they're tracked out, and at the same time not forced us to adjust our work schedules in the summer. Our kids aren't stressed out about going back to school when they are done with track-out, and retain a lot of information between sessions.

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MaryBeth Duprey 12 months ago

I'm not sure what the answer to the enrollment problem is but I have a couple of observations after looking at the entirety of the proposal. The current base of ECMS is very small, and the number of schools who have ECMS as their year round application school is pretty substantial. So, it could be a combination of the actual base area 'aging out' (trending out of being a family of young children) and that people are not choosing to go to YR (or not go to YR at ECMS). There are going to be problems at any school-and if the reasons for low enrollment are truly not related to the calendar (my guess is it's probably a combination of a lot of things)-then the school district needs to take a look at all of it. ECMS is a very old facility-when was the last time it got a facelift? I can tell you, as a parent, my daughter is doing very very well at ECMS academically, she has a club she likes and she's at school with her dad-what more can I really ask for? I have a child in a traditional elementary school and another one on the way who is in preschool. Eventually I'll have one in HS (traditional), one in MS (ECMS) and one in Elem (traditional). I think many people in the proposed assignment area for ECMS would have that kind of scenario if they have multiple kids spread out more than 2-3 years.

I can see positives of year round with my child-but she also did traditional calendar for many years before this and she was fine in that setting as well. I think children can adapt to either one as long as they receive parental support. I think the teachers benefit from the longer summer off-they aren't really getting 3 weeks off like the students(that is my observation, not my husband's opinion-which he won't be sharing in a public forum). We have enjoyed going to Disney in the 'off' season since my daughter came to ECMS-having to pull my son out of elem, however. I think there are a lot of positives to YR-but the majority of the schools that are being selected as feeders for the ECMS base are not. I grew up in the WCPSS and it has always seemed like there are 3 camps: people who love YR, people who abhor YR and people who are flexible as long as the school is awesome.

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Heather Gates 12 months ago

As many people have said, ECMS's problems do not stem from its calendar. While I'm sure some people choose to pass it by on the basis of calendar, I can assure you that changing it to traditional and filling it will not solve its problems. The physical buildings and grounds need an overhaul, the administration is lackluster at best, and the programs (electives) available are uninteresting.

I think that a school's reputation has more impact on parents' decisions than calendar. And I truly feel that ECMS's reputation has suffered over the years. They tried to fix it with getting a STEM certification. They brought in a principal whose specific job was to increase enrollment; and he did. But he left 3 years ago and his replacement hasn't been able to maintain his progress. Not only is enrollment down, but the kids are not happy there, even allowing for general tween-age malcontentedness. I think many parents simply hunkered down for the past 3 years (which did not seem short at all), hoping some changes would be made, but I'm pretty sure that going to a traditional calendar was not the change most were thinking of, because its not solving the root problems.

As a long-time year-round parent, nine years in with 3-5 more to go, I would rather see a year-round high school option. With block scheduling, it is possible and would actually help the kids manage the stress better by offering more frequent breaks. All high schools being on traditional calendars seems to be the biggest problem parents have with the year-round calendar in general, especially if they have multiple kids: knowing that one day they will have to choose to either be on 2 different calendars or switch the younger ones from year-round. Most don't want to have to go through that and simply stick with traditional. That is where our family is at right now, with one in high school, one in middle school at ECMS, and one in elementary school at Adams. We love the year-round calendar enough to put up with the inconvenience of having 2 schedules. I feel my kids have benefited greatly from it and I would be very disappointed to see that option taken away.

While ECMS going to a traditional calendar would be more convenient for us, because we would be on one schedule, if it doesn't improve in the next year or so, I'll be opting into RCMS or another school for my youngest. Because the quality of the school is more important than the calendar.

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Amy Walling 12 months ago

I would like to see East Cary Middle School remain on the year round calendar. In addition to the benefits listed above (knowledge retention, child care scheduling during breaks, best resource use, etc.), removing the year round option from the school would be a detriment to the year round elementary schools that feed the school in the Cary, Morrisville and Apex area. ECMS is one of three year round schools that support ten year round elementary schools in that area. Removing this option would force a large contingent of residents with year round students in the 27519, 27560 and 27511 zip codes to travel outside of their usual path of travel or abandon the year round schools. Our family has a parent working in RTP and one in North Raleigh, if we continued with the year round school calendar that we prefer, it would add a minimum of 44 minutes of car travel a day (not including any sort of adjustment for traffic) if we used carpool. That computes to a minimum of 5.5 days per year (180 days/year x 2 times a day x (11 mins out of way + 11 mins back to route)) of additional vehicular travel for one family. I cringe thinking about what the bus ride would be, considering the year round option on the new plan is 5.8 miles away, since the ride for the 1.4 miles distance from our current school is over 30 minutes. Thank you for your consideration in leaving East Cary Middle School as a year round calendar school. I apologize for the quickly thrown together map, but it shows the current year round elementary schools (black squares), current year round middle schools (green circles), and the current base areas for middle schools. The red areas feed to Salem Middle, the dark green to Lufkin and the Magenta to East Cary (year round schools).

Attachments: YearRound.JPG
12 Votes
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Shawna Schnorr 11 months ago

What would also be interesting to show is the area that has those schools as their year-round calendar option, like us. You would see the breadth of the area they are serving.

(Also, interesting to see Salem pulling in from downtown ... makes me thing its a contributing factor to why the magnets are underenrolled ... so frustrating for people applying to get in, to know there could be more application seats is the percentage of base students could be increased. All for diversity & test scores , but then you look at certain other schools ... )

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LB JO 12 months ago

I have had 2 children (who are now in college) pass through East Cary before the administrative changes and now have also have a student at East Cary. I have seen a decline (not necessarily in teachers, some are the same and are good teachers). The decline has been in the leadership for the school. If enrollment at feeder schools like Adams is strong, I think there needs to be a careful analysis in reviewing what is happening at the school. I have heard parents opting away from East Cary, when 10 yrs ago people were anxious to get in even if it was a drive or they had kids on multiple calendars. We are a family that has really needed a year round calendar for a variety of reasons. I hope this option is not eliminated. Might be best to survey parents who are enrolled or even better those who have selected away from East Cary to find out why. I doubt that the calendar is the biggest reason.

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Rachel Pack 12 months ago

I currently have a 7th grader at Reedy Creek and my daughter graduated from RCMS last year. We requested a transfer for both children from ECMS to RCMS. To make 8th graders switch schools after being at the same school for two years is simply unfair. It has the ability to not only effect their education, but their overall self-esteem the year before starting high school. It would be my hope that 8th graders would be grandfathered in and this policy would go into effect the following school year. Reedy Creek is a phenomenal school and we all chose it for a reason.

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Kelly Perry 12 months ago

I live in the Twin Lakes neighborhood on the Cary/Morrisville border. My child currently attends East Cary as a 6th grader. Under the proposed plan, he would be reassigned to Pine Hollow which is in North Raleigh. This is not near my home. Other proposed year round middle schools (including Alston Ridge Middle School) are much closer. I oppose this change.
In short, this proposed plan would have the effect of forcing our family (with 3 children) out of year round schools and back to traditional, which does nothing to help the Wake County capacity problems.

In addition, I think the proposed plan fails to take into account the parent logistics that are vital to a healthy, functioning school community. Parents in my area tend to work in RTP. The proximity of my home and work to East Cary allows me to be an active volunteer at the school. If my child is reassigned to a school in North Raleigh, a location that is simply not part of my life and where I never go, I will not have the option to participate and support the school.

6 Votes
 
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Tracie Walker 12 months ago

I fail to understand how converting a school from year-round (where the school is in use all year) to traditional (where the school is only in use from August > June) helps ensure better use of the facility. How about sending some of the traditional calendar kids to year-round - that'll fill up some space.

Year-round shouldn't always be the calendar option on the chopping block. How about traditional be on the chopping block? Year-round has so many academic benefits but if the county fails to market how great the calendar option is, parents will fail to understand.

Keep ECMS year-round! Keep Adams Elementary families assigned to ECMS! In any school assignment situation, walkable children should never be bused miles and miles away when the proximity of where they live eliminates the need for the county to provide transportation.

9 Votes
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Megan Dezendorf 12 months ago

Yes, all of this!!!

1 Vote
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Shawna Schnorr 11 months ago

I agree. I think converting another elementary school to year round would increase the desperately needed seats for elementary and increase the families on the year-round pathway to fill ECMS. It's fiscally irresponsible to be converting schools "backwards".

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Lynn Power 12 months ago

We support the idea of changing ECMS over to the traditional calendar if it can help bring back STEM learning & keep our full-time teachers. I do think the attendance numbers have dropped off over the past few years due the leadership being VERY hands off at ECMS. Year-round does have learning advantages, but if the numbers are not where they need to be then we do need to make a change to avoid losing any more teachers.

A major factor for us transferring our children into ECMS year round (from a traditional school), was for the STEM curriculum. Unfortunately for the past 3 years I have not seen any focus on STEM except for one “girls engineering” elective that is offered maybe once a month. In my opinion, WCPSS needs to better train or replace existing leadership / counselors at ECMS and bring back the special focus on STEM learning. Reedy Creek was a failing school just 3 years ago, but as soon as they added "magnet school" to their title, people started changed their tune, which could also happen here to increase headcount (possibly bringing back Year Round scheduling in the future).

ECMS is a good school and we are lucky to have many wonderful teachers that truly care about teaching. My kids hated the thought of a year round school (as did we, because with 2 kids on 2 different calendars things get tricky), but most of the teachers have made a lasting impression with their compassion and ability to make learning fun. I would hate to see the student headcount numbers continue to drop, which would mean paying to ultimate price of losing more good teachers. If changing to traditional calendar will increase the headcount numbers & allow the school to keep the good teachers as well as re-focus on STEM classes, we would love it.

7 Votes
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Maura Jones 10 months ago

Hey Lynn...you mention converting to traditional could bring STEM curriculum and full time teachers...but if we continued on the YR option, finding ways to show the benefits of YR education, improving the grounds, improving teacher/parent/student satisfaction, increasing the base, wouldn't that as well increase the population allowing for STEM and full time teachers? I fail to see why a successful YR school wouldn't bring those or if you have a good STEM program it could help bring interest as well. I just truly don't see how making it a traditional school, with no increase in population as well, would change anything.

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Melanie King 12 months ago

I support keeping ECMS on a year-round schedule. ECMS is currently our year-round option (WCMS traditional calendar base). My oldest is entering middle school next year and was planning to go to ECMS since our family prefers the year-round schedule. Under the proposed plan, he will have to go to Salem Middle for year-round, which is much farther away. So, your proposal will have the opposite of the desired effect of increasing enrollment at ECMS, since it's not an option for us anymore.

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Tim Hamill 12 months ago

This is a horrible idea. Please keep East Cary as a year-round school. My daughter is a current ECMS student and will be forced to switch schools after this year. We have had continuity with year-round schools from the start, coming from Adams Elementary. Adams has been the perfect feeder school for ECMS, and is just a 2 minute walk away. Any students attending Adams and are looking for a year round middle school option, will now need to be bused out of Cary. (Salem, Lufkin, or Pine Hollow). Will this change start to reduce enrollment at Adams as well?

The proposed reasoning is that ECMS is under enrolled. How does forcing out currently attending students to other schools help increase enrollment? These students all chose to attend ECMS. With this change, my only options would be to West Cary (traditional) or to Pine Hollow (YR). West Cary is already capped for enrollment? This defies logic. Pine Hollow is somewhere off 540 in Raleigh. The fastest route is 17 miles from ECMS, a 25 minute drive.

I also have a son that is currently enrolled at Cary High. We do not use busing. As Cary High and ECMS are within walking distance and have similar start times, it is very easy to do carpool for both. However, with this change, I will be forced to have to bus my daughter. We are most likely looking at a 50 minute+ bus ride to Pine Hollow.

If enrollment at ECMS was the only factor, there are many steps that could easily be done to address the issue. Some options would be to: 1) Adjust the start time to better align with Adams, and the other feeder YR elementary schools. The start time is the sole reason why a few previous Adams parents did not chose ECMS. 2) Have WCPSS better promote the YR option. 3) Slightly increase the application zone. Why do we have large swaths of Cary going to the more distant Lufkin? 4) Do more to attract parents to ECMS. (Programs, Classes, grades, etc)

Finally, why do only rising 8th graders get to be grandfathered in? At the high school level, you allow all currently enrolled students to remain. Why is the same not offered to the Middle and Elementary students? If you truly wanted continuity for the students, this would be a priority.

9 Votes
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Shawna Schnorr 11 months ago

Or North Garner Year-Round (track 4 only)

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Mary Grovesteen 12 months ago

I strongly oppose changing ECMS to a traditional year school. My daughter will be an 8th grader next year, but we will have to provide our own transportation for her to stay there. This will be very inconvenient for us since it is in the opposite direction from my place of work and will add to my commute time. The year-round schedule has worked well for my kids because they get regular breaks from school and have a chance to recharge without forgetting everything before going back. My daughter is in the AIG program there, which has kept her engaged, and my son, who just graduated from there, loved all of his teachers. For families with younger children in year-round elementary schools, having more year-round middle school options makes it easier for them. Please keep ECMS a year-round school.

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Ann Bagley 12 months ago

I understand the need to increase enrollment at ECMS and the thought that changing the calendar might accomplish that. What I don’t understand is eliminating the only year-round middle school in Cary when so many Cary families prefer year-round. I will have a rising 6th grader next year. We have loved the year-round calendar, and my child wants to continue with year-round. Driving or bussing her from Cary out to Pine Hollow off of 540 is not a viable option for us. We would end up switching to our traditional calendar base school.

I agree with others that more can be done to increase enrollment. Dr. Chisnall and Mr. Branam (band director) were a winning combination, growing both enrollment and the band by leaps and bounds during their tenures. Under the current administration, ECMS has lost some great teachers, some of the commitment to STEM, and enrollment. Just yesterday, I saw that Ms. McGraff from the front office is also leaving for another school. She was a gem, and losing her is a huge loss to ECMS. Focus on those issues. They will still be problems even if the calendar is changed.

I personally don’t mind the early start time because it aligns well with Cary High. My high schooler can drop off my middle schooler on the way to school. If a time change would help attract more students though, that sounds like a positive change. I can adapt to a time change. I can’t adapt to 540/Leesville as an option for our Cary family.

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Kelly Perry 12 months ago

The Twin Lakes neighborhood is currently assigned to East Cary as the year-round middle school option. Under the new plan for year-round middle schools, the neighborhood would be split, with half of the neighborhood assigned to Pine Hollow (which is quite far) and half assigned to Alston Ridge (which is much closer). Please correct this split by having Alston Ridge be the year-round option for ALL families in Twin Lakes.

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Paula Kotula 12 months ago

Please keep us at ECMS! We are from the "county" and this was our YR option and how fortunate we were to have this option for our middle school kids. We love this school, the families and the program please do not move us to North Garner. We would love for ECMS to remain a STEM application option please do not rezone us.

5 Votes
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Shawna Schnorr 11 months ago

We are also in the position of have to choose traditional or track 4 in N. Garner. Neither match with the other sibling.

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Matthew Leerberg 12 months ago

The Twin Lakes neighborhood is split in half by this proposal, with part of the neighborhood feeding to Pine Hollow and part feeding to Alston Ridge (ARM). I do not understand why the 5 to 10 year-round middle-schoolers in the southern half of the neighborhood should not be allowed to go to school with their neighbors in the northern half. Please fix and allow all Twin Lakes students the year-round option of Alston Ridge. And thank you for your hard work on this.

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Jason Spruill 12 months ago

In regards to transporting North Cary middle school students who choose to be on year round schedule to Pine Hollow, has there been any study done on the impact of having to traverse the Brier Creek/RDU/Umstead corridor twice a day? Either by bus or by personal vehicle, the current amount of traffic in the mornings, appears to be asking for problems. Has the impending reconstruction of the Aviation/Airport interchanges been taken into account as well?

5 Votes
 
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Andrea Densmore 12 months ago

I’m opposed to ECMS converting to a traditional calendar school.

The proposal states the need to increase the student population at ECMS, however under the proposal, ECMS would no longer be an option for our family. Our plan was to send our kids to ECMS.

If we wanted to stay year round, my kids would need to travel 10 miles to Lufkin Road MS. In my opinion, that’s just too far. My kids spend 45+ minutes on a bus to attend a school 2 miles away. I fear what the bus ride duration would be when attending a school 5x further away than ECMS. If my child wanted to participate in any after school activity that required me to provide transportation in peak travel times, I would spend AN HOUR in a car just to pick my child up! By having a school this far away, I fear you’d lose student and parent involvement.

The proposal is also trying to reduce overpopulation at Reedy Creeks Schools. We’re a family who prefers YR, but if the nearest option for YR MS would be LRMS, my family would seriously considering not only attending our base of RCMS instead of LRMS, but also pulling a sibling from Adams to attend RCES.

So many families pick the year round option in hopes of attending Adams and then ECMS, but why would ANY family who lives anywhere near Adams opt for Adams knowing their middle school option would be LFMS? Once again, you’d have families willing to do year round but would be forced to heavily consider Reedy Creek schools or other traditional calendar options.

Administration can say over and over that ECMS doesn’t have a leadership problem and is a great school with great teachers. That might be the case, but if people in the community don’t believe that, families are going to continue to opt for other middle schools. Changes need to be made in order to boost the community’s confidence in ECMS.

WCPSS does not market year round schools. There’s little information for new families coming to our district. Why not dispel some myths and provide a dedicated space on WCPSS’s website for information on the logistics of year-round? (No, they don’t go to school EVERY day. It’s the same number of days as traditional calendar schools.) Why not have an online guide to track-out camps? Parents who aren’t familiar with year-round school don’t always know how many track-out camps exist. Why not explain some perks of year-round schools? Vacationing in off-season! Outdoor camps in the Spring and Fall! Knowledge retention! Kids who need more help can receive tutoring during track out and not have to wait until the school year is over to try to catch up.

I don’t believe converting ECMS to a traditional calendar would meet the proposal’s goal.

7 Votes
 
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Shawna Schnorr 11 months ago

Just a couple notes:

1 I looked up our assignments in the tool most recently on Aug. 29. When I looked today, our proposed options had changed, so be aware. I'm not sure what's going on with that.

2 To my understanding, the chart on https://www.wcpss.net/Page/33452 is incorrect. Our base school, Dillard Drive Elementary, is not listed on the chart, even though our calendar application school IS changing. Are other schools missing too???

0 Votes
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Matt Dees admin 11 months ago

Hi Shawna. Checking on this. Will advise ASAP.

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Shawna Schnorr 11 months ago

Thanks for your email. In the draft 2 lookup, this is resolved. Our base school continues to be Dillard, and our existing year-round option (Adams) is back. (PS Not sure why the letters are so big in that post.)

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Shawna Schnorr 11 months ago

Doing the math from the slides from the school board presentation, the East Cary transition would mean only an estimated 120 more students at East Cary. (From 76% of 1268 to 87% of 956.) Is putting a death spiral on year-round in this part of the county worth it?

Having had time to digest the maps, the Lufkin lumps in southwest Raleigh & especially north Cary, right across from East Cary MS, don't make a lot of sense. Let the people go to the schools closer to them.

I still would like to see an option with a broader YR base for East Cary with another year-round elementary school, since it sounds like that's the only way to feed a YR middle school.

School Board Presentation slides: https://www.wcpss.net/cms/lib/NC01911451/Centricity/Domain/6073/BOE%20WORK%20SESSION%208_21_18_%202019-2020%20WCPSS%20ENROLLMENT%20PLAN%20PRESENTATION_141919qshet1xilmaitpb4pn1dkilc.pdf

1 Vote
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Matt Dees admin 11 months ago

Shawna, calendar application schools for Dillard Drive Elementary are not proposed to change. That should be reflected in new Draft 2 address look-up. Please let me know if that's not the case. http://wwwgis2.wcpss.net/addressLookup/proposalSecondDraft/

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Jason Spruill 11 months ago

Just wanted to point out that moving from 76% of a capacity of 1268 students to 87% of 956 students is a net loss of students. 76% of 1268 is 964 students. 87% of 956 students is 832 students. You will have 132 fewer students in that scenario.

Unless I am not understanding the information on the slides correctly.

1 Vote
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Shawna Schnorr 11 months ago

@Matt Dees Clearly I didn't have my Wheaties that day. I have searched around (no links on the site) and found the FAQ (I believe), but it doesn't address that question. https://www.wcpss.net/cms/lib/NC01911451/Centricity/Domain/6073/Draft%202%20FAQ.pdf

I understand the broader picture, but the East Cary calendar change really isn't making sense to me.

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Matt Dees admin 11 months ago

Hi Jason. We're going to answer this and other questions about capacity figures in our Draft 2 FAQ, which we hope to post by the end of this week.

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Kim Moser 11 months ago

Disappointed to see that, in Draft 2, there was no revision to keep East Cary year round. Concerns by parents and students were strong at the September public forum meeting. What else can we do to show that huge #s of families are against this move to a traditional calendar? I would like to see more convincing data about how this move is going to positively impact student population #s at the involved schools (East Cary, Reedy Creek MS). As Jason points out, there will be a net loss. And, there will be an non-calculated/unpredictable loss of students who will leave East Cary. In addition, those that you anticipate going to East Cary from Davis Drive MS.....they will find an alternative.

5 Votes
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Michael Albidrez 11 months ago

You are right, Kim! As a parent of two kids that would have to go from DDMS to East Cary, I can agree that many parents in our neighborhood WILL find alternatives. We will not make our kids go to East Cary when DDMS is 0.6 miles away.

5 Votes
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Shawna Schnorr 11 months ago

Also, without a nearby year-round middle school, I would anticipate attendance at Adams dropping. Wrong direction!

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Amanda Hirko 11 months ago

I support the change to move ECMS to a traditional calendar. My family is a big supporter of year round schools having had two children at year round elementary schools. It's been nice to have breaks throughout the year for the kids and to vacation during out of season times. However, I've noticed that as the children start entering middle school, there are fewer track out camp and other enrichment opportunities available to them during those track out periods outside of summer. They start aging out of a lot of camps and choices are more limited. There is more variety and types of camps in the summer for that middle school age group, and I see a lot of great opportunities that my children will be missing because of the year round schedule at that age. If other traditional schools in the area are capped and overcrowded, having another traditional school available would be beneficial.

1 Vote
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Shawna Schnorr 11 months ago

As more schools are changed to traditional, that is the year-round death spiral I was talking about - it becomes harder to find care options, and fewer people are talking about how year-round can be normal. Everyone in year-round or concerned about the county's capital expenses should be "interested" in this change.

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Matt Dees admin 11 months ago

We have answered some frequently asked questions. Please read and share feedback. https://wcpss.granicusideas.com/discussions/2019-20-student-enrollment-proposal/topics/draft-2-faq-2

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Shawna Schnorr 11 months ago

The FAQ doesn't address the proposed reduction in attendance at East Cary. Also, neither the draft nor the FAQ indicates there was any consideration of keeping East Cary year-round, or converting another elementary school to year-round to increase seats and feed East Cary.

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Matt Dees admin 11 months ago

Due to unforeseen circumstances, we need to reschedule tonight's meeting regarding proposed changes related to East Cary and West Cary Middle schools and proposed calendar application school changes. We will announce a new date and location here and on the parent feedback site. We regret any inconvenience this may cause.

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Matt Dees admin 11 months ago

Parents, first of all, thank you for your kind words and your understanding about our need to reschedule last night's forum. We have rescheduled it for Monday, Oct. 8 at 6:30 p.m., in the auditorium at Cary High School. Again, this forum is to hear feedback regarding proposed assignments to East Cary and West Cary middle schools, affecting Davis Drive and Reedy Creek middle school students, as well as proposed calendar application school changes. The forum will be held at Cary High School in the auditorium. Each speaker will be given up to three minutes. We will post a speaker sign-up list the morning of the meeting, on this site and at wcpss.net/enrollmentproposal

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Laura Oates 11 months ago

I oppose changing ECMS to traditional calendar for many of the same reasons stated by parents above. We were a year round family for the previous 10 years over 3 kids. We CHOSE Adams Elem over our traditional base of Cary Elem. Having the YR middle school option in such close proximity to our downtown Cary home also affected our initial elementary choice decision. If we had remained YR, I would be extremely upset for WCPSS threatening to take that proximity option from our family. We enjoyed the year round options with frequent breaks for the kids, "off" season vacation options, etc. As our youngest entered middle school we chose against ECMS, not for him being on a different calendar than his traditional calendar high school siblings, but due to the continuing downward spiral of the school over the past 3 years. We were lucky on track 4 having some great teachers, but I have seen much turnover in staff there in previous 2 years especially. My eldest 2 had NO AIG teacher for an entire school year and we as parents were NEVER informed of this! Ultimately, whatever WCPSS does with the ECMS calendar, I hope their MAIN focus will be improving their elective options, having a true STEM program [think ADHS & incorporate STEM into core courses as well], addressing how the changes in administration have affected the overall enrollment of the school.

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Jessica Gutierrez 11 months ago

Is WCPSS allowing calendar application families to stay at ECMS even if they change to traditional calendar? If so, is it using any means how to survey those families to assess student numbers? ECMS has 312 calendar applications this year out of 960 students, 32.5% of the school. ECMS has a year-round capacity of 1,268 students. So it is 76% full now, up from 72% last school year. ECMS has a traditional calendar capacity of 956 compared to the 960 students attending today on a year-round calendar. How many students are proposed to move from RCMMS to ECMS? How many students are proposed to move from DDMS to ECMS? How many students are proposed to move from other schools to ECMS?

Is student achievement a factor in any of reassignment decisions affecting students who are proposed to move from other schools to ECMS?

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MaryBeth Duprey 11 months ago

Where are you getting this data about capacity? ECMS does not function in a classroom sharing way for year round capacity like you are thinking. It has empty classrooms during trackout.

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Jessica Gutierrez 11 months ago

I am using the figures WCPSS used in their presentation as well as to questions they have answered since the original presentation. I am trying to understand the figures WCPSS is sharing with us. WCPSS isn't answering some questions, so I thought posting questions on the forum might get some answers.

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Jessica Gutierrez 11 months ago

Glenn Carrozza's presentation has capacity figures for all schools involved in current reassignment proposal. This is what everything is based on and what the school board members are being told in making their decisions. The 960 enrollment figure is from this school year. The proposals use 2017-2018 data which is that 911 number.
https://www.wcpss.net/site/Default.aspx?PageID=30653

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MaryBeth Duprey 11 months ago

Well, I can tell you that ECMS Is under enrolled when teacher have been lost due to tracks being condensed from 4 classrooms to two, with teachers teaching two subjects. Two of the tracks are like that for all 3 grades. I don't need to see the data from the presentation to know that.

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Matt Dees admin 11 months ago

Tonight's public forum is regarding proposed assignments to East Cary and West Cary middle schools, affecting Davis Drive and Reedy Creek middle school students, as well as proposed calendar application school changes. The forum will be held at 6:30 p.m. Cary High School in the auditorium. To ensure we provide opportunities for all parents affected by the 2019-20 Student Enrollment Proposal, we ask that only parents affected by these specific proposals attend. If you are proposed to be affected by another part of the plan and wish to attend, we will have student assignment staff members available to answer your questions. Each speaker will be given up to three minutes. Sign up to speak. https://goo.gl/forms/fLhJRPZBEWjioApv1 You may also sign up at the door.

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Maura Jones 11 months ago

I do not believe changing ECMS to a traditional calendar is in the best interest of my/our children's lives. When my husband and I were alerted to the proposed change to Adams and East Cary we were distraught to say the least. With researching (A LOT) the benefits of year round vs. traditional those associated with year round far outweighed traditional. On top of that, watching my daughter this past year at Adams I first hand saw the benefits of year round and to know that might be taken away is nauseating.

Adams population is mainly made up of those electing to send their children there. When we heard of the proposal, working with one other parent, within 24 hours we were able to drum up over 50 letters of support. This was achieved by my husband standing in the car pool lane the next morning with a large sign with info and an email address. Since that time many more letters have been received. This proves year round options are important to us and the thought of having my daughter (and son down the road) having to sit on a bus to Lufkin Rd in Apex is absurd. I don't want her to have a 60+ minute bus ride. This would prove to be a hardship for parents doing car pool or with any child in after school programs. This is not the answer.

What other options have been looked at to increase enrollment vs. changing East Cary to traditional? A 7:30 start time is tooo early; having a child put on a bus around 6:45 would be difficult. Other things I have heard from past and present parents is significant concern surrounding the higher than normal turn over rate of long standing teachers these past couple years when other staffing changes were made. Has there been any investigation of the turn over rate, when it started and then why it has happened? Why is the leadership of the school not being questioned?

On top of that there is no promotion of year round. The Wake County School site is littered with info on Magnet schools, but it is impossible to find information and explanation of year round schools. With this information easily found and read, it would likely entice more parents to understand how it works, that there are so many track out camps for year round and the benefits of children learning all year with smaller breaks in between..

I believe increasing the promotion and explanation of year round schools, pushing the start time back, closely looking at the school leadership and staff turn over in the past few years (and when it increased) could help increase enrollment and allow this to remain THE ONLY Cary year round option. Please look at these details prior to stripping us of what is best for our children. Thank you!

6 Votes
 
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Leslie Douglas, Owner/Realtor of The Douglas Realty Group 11 months ago

What I wanted to say last night at the meeting on behalf of myself, as well as other parents from East Cary & Adams Elementary...

We realize you’re in a hard position because no matter what decision you make your plan will upset someone. There’s not a perfect plan out there that will make everyone happy, that’s just not the way the world works. However, we’re in agreement, East Cary Middle School DOESN’T need to be changed to a traditional calendar schools. There are better options available to you to consider! Tonight we’d like to address how this current plan doesn’t fit within your WCPSS Board Policy 4150, the “4 Pillar Policy”, as well as address the underlying issues with East Cary, what changes can be made to the plan to work for more families in our area & thoughts we have to consider as you look to the future of schools in Wake County.

The county’s first policy is Student Achievement. It’s stated one of your factors for consideration is “providing an opportunity for families to apply to designated application schools”. This plan actually effectively takes away the option for families desiring the year round program. By changing East Cary to a Traditional Calendar, you are putting a great burden on year round families. For most of us in this plan, our new year round option will be either Lufkin Rd in Apex or N Garner Middle, which equates to a 30 minute one way trip away from our homes & our jobs. These schools are on the opposite sides of town, which means more than one parent in this audience traveling down US1 to drop their child off at Lufkin, traveling back through Cary to head West on 40 to go to work in RTP. At a minimum parents are looking at an hour commute in the morning just to drop their child off at school. Parents can’t currently count on the county to get their kids to school in less than an hour when they live 2.6 miles from their current school. How long will it take for their child to travel 11 miles to get to their new proposed school? Parents in this area who choose to send their kids to their year round option will be forced to carpool their kids to school for an hour in the morning & an hour in the afternoon, effectively taking 2 hours of their life away that could be better spent at their job or volunteering at the school. If not, they’ll have to find a before/after school program that will accommodate that kind of commute, which costs money. The burden here is immense & not only effects the parents, but think of the kids. They’re going to have to get up that much earlier for school, fall asleep with the hum of the car, go into school cranky, tired & not ready to absorb all of the knowledge our hard working teachers try to bestow upon them. They’ll have less time for homework in the evenings, it will be harder to get them to tutors or sports activities & ultimately they’ll end up staying up later at night just to get everything done in a day. We all agree, this sets up our students for disaster. This doesn’t even begin to mention the burden most parents will face in being able to come to parent/teacher conferences, getting involved in the PTA or even just picking your kid up from school when they’re sick because the distance is so severe, after driving 2 hours in a day to do drop off/pick up, when are parents going to be able to find the time to do these things? It’s been proven that parent involvement in their child’s education plays a critical role in the success of the student at school. Are we going to sacrifice the achievement of our students so we can push a plan through that’s such a burden? Is it ok for you to send students across town to balance your test scores at schools vs providing the schools with the resources they need to make every student successful regardless of which school they attend?

Stability is the county’s second policy. The proposed plan talks about stability only from the perspective of grandfathering in students. This plan speaks nowhere to keeping a stable environment for our kids. At this moment, I’ve been given permission to single out the Dezendorf family. They are a family of 5 with 3 wonderful boys. 2 of their sons currently attend Adams Year Round Elementary in 1st & 3rd grades, with their 3rd son just having started his first year at East Cary Middle School. This family has lived in the year round program for 7 years, has called Adams Elementary & now East Cary home. Under your proposed plan, the Dezendorf family will be sent to Morrisville/Salem Elementary & Salem Middle School to attend a year round program. They live inside the Maynard Rd Loop, Adams is less than 3 miles from their home, they have been a part of our Adams family for 7 years. Meanwhile, families that have called Morrisville Elementary home for years are now being redistricted to Adams, a farther away school. Why would you choose to give them options all the way across town? How does that make sense for their family? How does that make sense for our transportation system? How does this help our kids with stability with their peers? These children are going to be uprooted from the schools they know & love to be thrown into different schools for 2-5 years to the be sent back to high school in their perspective areas. For instance the Dezendorf family could realistically go to elementary school in Morrisville, Middle School in Apex & High School at Cary High, when they live in the core of the downtown Cary. They’ll constantly be in a state of feeling like the new kid. You might as well have picked the kids up & moved them to a different state. Our communities/neighborhoods are split up enough as it is with all the school options available, this plan will further corrode that sense of a community & stability every parent is trying to find for their child.

In the information I’ve handed you, you’ll find a smaller version of this map. This map is here to address your third pillar, proximity. This map shows all of the year round middle schools in the county. While I understand your pillar focuses on base assignment proximity, are you not considering providing viable year round options within reasonable proximity to all wake county families? East Cary is the red star. As you can see, there are no year round middle school options within the entirety of 440. And if you eliminate East Cary as a Year round school, you won’t have a single year round middle school in even a close distance to 440 or I-40 for that matter. With the majority of East Cary students currently opting into the year round program, we’ll have to opt into other year round schools. As you can see, those options are not within any reasonable proximity to North Cary, Southwest Raleigh or inside 440. Because of proximity, you will be exiling families out of the year round program as we’ll be forced to make the decision between staying in a year round program and traveling 2 hours a day to take their children to & from school OR uprooting the lives we know and sending our kids to the traditional program. It has been mentioned this plan is supposed to align the feeder patterns, but it seems to throw it out of whack more than it helps. Adams Elementary & East Cary Middle school are a 1/4 of a mile away from each other, they are the only year round schools on this side of town, we all feed into Cary High or Athens Drive, what better alignment can you ask for when our population comes from Cary & Raleigh? How does sending our students to schools that feed into Apex, Apex Friendship or Holly Springs make any sense? I’ll use myself as an example here. In 2 years, under the proposed plan, my son will go to middle school at Lufkin. I will have to put my elementary daughter in the car with me & my son at 7:30am to barely get my son to Lufkin on time at 8am, travel the 30 minutes back to Adams to drop my daughter off & will eventually get to work about 9am. I have it easy as I only work 5 minutes from Adams. For me, that’s an hour & a half of being in the car just dropping off kids and getting to work. I can’t imagine what the trip will be like for those parents working in RTP. And if I don’t choose to go year round for middle school because of the proximity, then I’ll have one kid at Adams on the year round schedule & one in middle school on traditional calendar. I’ve been prepared for when my oldest goes to high school & having to make that transition since I signed him up for year round in kindergarten. But I’ve always known he’ll be better equipped to take care of himself while we’re at work or can get a job himself at that point. To ask a middle schooler to have the same responsibility is unfathomable & plain unreasonable. So do I make the drive or then pull my daughter out of Adams & the year round program that we love so much? You’re putting a burden on our families you’re not asking of every family in the county & the weight of that burden has already led to many sleepless nights by those in this room. If families around 540 get the option of a year round middle school in reasonable proximity, why are we not entitled to that same basic right as tax paying wake county citizens?

Policy 4150 addresses Operational Efficiency as the fourth & final pillar. I’m sure this is one of the toughest challenges the staff faces when devising a new plan. I’m a HUGE proponent in making as many things as efficient as possible as life nowadays is jammed packed as possible, but why is your first decision when a school is under-enrolled to change the calendar of the school? There are a number of reasons why a school can be under-enrolled…small base maps, changing populations, lack of marketing, poor leadership, lack of updating/maintenance at the schools.

It’s a known fact that East Cary & Adams are both under-enrolled schools, but could part of that be because both schools have the following areas currently in their base maps…cary town center, the surrounding shopping/business areas & Wake Med Soccer Park? No students live in these areas, however, they consume a huge amount of our physical base, which is part of the reason why over 2/3rds of the Adams & East Cary population has had to opt-in. The changing population of north cary should also be a factor of consideration. For a long time, this side of town has had a population of citizens who have raised their kids through these schools & stayed long after their kids flew the nest. That population is moving on & I can personally attest as the owner of a Real Estate firm in downtown cary this area is changing. Older generations are moving out & the next generation is moving in as they desire the proximity to the changing downtown Cary, the highway system & proximity to jobs in RTP and companies like SAS. This is will lead to a natural increase in the student population, especially as areas like Cary Town Center get redeveloped & places like the Fenton development come to fruition & add an additional 1,000 homes right down the street from East Cary. Converting East Cary to a traditional calendar could present the board with a capacity problem in a few years time & then we’re back to the drawing board again. Also consider the students you’d be sending to N Garner. Not only is it a far distance, but with the completion of 540 & the amazon distribution center coming to Garner in the near future, the population of Garner is expected to grow exponentially. Where will those students go, if the students that could have stayed at East Cary have taken all their seats? Where will you then have to send those students? Will those poor East Cary students have to be shipped somewhere else again? Seems like we’re cutting off our nose to spite our face when you take the growing population into consideration. We add 63 people to the county every day & with them come their children. As a county, shouldn’t we be looking overall at making more schools year round, not less? I implore you to look to the future. As we grow, we’ll need more schools & having more year round schools will help accommodate that population. Don’t be short sided like previous boards have been on schools like Mills Park. That school was supposed to be year round, however a past board made the decision for it to be traditional. That school has been capped/overenrolled for a while, but good luck trying to change it to year round now. What happens with East Cary? If you change it now, will you just have the need to change it back in a few years as the population continues to grow? Will you even have the ability to do it at that time?

But at the end of the day, if the county isn’t interested in promoting & marketing year round schools, what will change? As it currently stands, the only information the county has on WCPSS.net about year round schools is a link to the calendar. Not anything explaining the calendar, how year round programs benefits the county, teachers & families, or links to find out more information. I personally work with families every day relocating to our area and they are beyond confused with all of the options presented to them. One of the first questions we are typically asked about the year round program is, “do the kids go to school everyday?”. I personally always have to giggle because they just don’t know & I have to go into my little speech to educate them about the pros & cons. Once I’ve described the year round program, over 75% of my clients make the decision to opt in & love it. But it shouldn’t be up to a realtor to educate the population on the different types of schools/programs available. We should be able to point our clients to your website where they can find the information they are looking for. As a county, we have failed these parents. They take a look online, can’t find great information, have heard horror stories of the application process & just decide to go with what’s easy & what they know, their traditional base option. The county advertises the Magnet/Year Round/Early College Fairs, but when you get to the fairs, the year round schools are always tucked away on the 2nd floor without much fan fair, while all of the attention gets put on the magnet program. If the county is not excited about the year round program, then why would the parents get excited about it? Do parents even know what exists on the 2nd floor? Many parents have addressed these concerns with me & the question keeps coming up, “is wake county weeding out the year round program?” When I privately addressed these concerns with your communication staff at the public hearing on August 29th, specifically asking why wake county doesn’t advertise year round schools, the response I got almost knocked me to the floor. I was told that if wake county “promoted the year round program too much, then the year round programs would compete with the magnet schools for their students because typically year round programs perform at the same testing level, if not better, than the magnet programs.” Excuse me for being blunt, but what kind of response is that? If the statement is true, then #1 - why aren’t we making all schools year round & #2 - wouldn’t promoting the year round program help you to relieve the over-crowding problem with our magnet schools? My base school is actually Reedy Creek Middle, a magnet program. I am more than happy/willing to give up my seat at Reedy Creek in a few years to go to a year round program within a reasonable proximity. Convert East Cary to traditional & I’ll have to take that seat away from other families who really want the magnet program. The year round program could be a viable alternative to magnet schools for many families, if parents knew what it actually meant for their kids…better school life, happier teachers, improved test scores! There’s so many benefits, but the county has to let families know the benefits. Families don’t have a mirror on the wall to tell them everything they need to know, but most have access to the internet.

What parents can’t find online, they’ll then turn to the actual schools to see what they’re like, how does the school make them feel, what kind of things does the school have to offer. I feel fortunate to have attended both Adams, East Cary & Cary High and this gives me a unique perspective. While all three schools have had additions added to them over the years or had new wings/auditoriums/gyms build on, nothing has been done to update the cosmetics of the schools since I attend over 30 years ago. Adams Elementary is coming up on it’s 50th birthday, the school has been bought & paid for by the tax payers for years. Why has nothing been done to the buildings in 15 years? Why is the PTA pouring blood, sweat, tears & money on improving the look of the school if the county won’t invest any money in it? East Cary & Adams looks like it stepped out of the 80’s/90’s. Most rooms in Adams have the original cabinetry, all of the trim in the school is the same hunter green color I had on my favorite silk shirt & leather jacket in middle school, the landscaping is out of control & wild, the buildings could use just a basic power washing, the interior hallways are dark & dingy feeling. You can hear the parents at the open houses…it’s an old school, it doesn’t have smart boards, etc. Overall the school needs a facelift. There’s no mistaking the job of the county is to sell the different schools to maximize efficiency at all, but it’s really hard to sell a school that’s been referred to as dingy. I look at it a lot like selling a house. If you want to sell your house as-is without preparing it for the market, then you can expect to get less offers. If you want to have as many people as possible interested in buying your house, then you have to dress it up to sell. This isn’t happening. All of the money in the county is going to build new schools in the new development areas of town, instead of reinvesting in the schools we already have. Millions of dollars are being spent to build these beautiful, well lit, inviting, brand new schools, but the schools on this side of town have to submit applications, work on grants, etc to get funds to paint the walls. If you want to do the bare minimum, give these schools funds to make improvements to make the schools attractive & inviting to parents, so they want their kids to go there. It’s about how you make people feel about the school. $50,000 could go a long way to give a school a facelift, which would help increase it’s enrollment, therefore leaving the county in the best possible position to have spent a little bit of money, but got a lot of return out of the increased enrollment & reaching capacity at a school. Right now, East Cary & Adams aren’t dressed up, they’re living in a time capsule from back in my days as a student. The PTA at Adams has painted the front office & started on the Kindergarten & 1st grade class rooms…the difference that just this little effort has made has been felt throughout the school. New students walk in & talk about how they love our colors in the office. Teachers & students love the changes in the Kindergarten & 1st grade classrooms so much, they’ll grab PTA members & throw their arms around us thanking us for the improvements we’ve made. Whether it’s the place you live, work or learn, it should be a place you can take pride in. The school has a new energy because of this project & everyone who walks its halls has a new sense of pride in their school. It’s thanks to the leadership at Adams that the PTA has been able to get this project underway. But we need the county’s help to make the improvements quicker to get the desired effected.

At the end of the day, the leadership at East Cary must be taken into consideration as it plays such a crucial role in the functionality of a school. Tonight there are parents sitting in this room that have had their children in the year round program since kindergarten. They’ve have their older children attend East Cary in the past 3 years. Last year it was time for their youngest kids to transition to middle school and because of the experience they had with the leadership at east cary, they chose to send their kids to Reedy Creek Middle. They have undoubtedly expressed they would have stayed at East Cary & in the year round program, if it had not been for the leadership at East Cary. While I haven’t attended East Cary & don’t know from personal experience what the leadership is like there, I can refer you to the facts that I do know. In 2015, the first year the new principal came in at East Cary, the population was 1043 students. In 2016 that number dropped to 960. It continued to drop in 2017 to 911 and now it’s 2018 & they are currently sitting with a population in the 830’s. This time frame also coincides with the claiming the school is a Stem School program, but parents currently attending the school think it’s a joke of a program because it’s not being implemented properly and that falls on the leadership. There is something going on at this school and should be evaluated before taking away the year round program for an entire population because the leadership is failing the school.

We all understand changes have to come…you have a growing population to contend with, new schools to fill, bussing problems to solve, etc…but the proposed plan only addresses 1 of these problems…new schools to fill. The other 2 problems, a growing population & busing, are going to continue to be major problems, if not get worse under this plan. Your proposal to change East Cary to a traditional calendar won’t increase the amount of students at East Cary, yet relocates a whole population of Davis Drive Students across town to leave Davis Drive at only 78% capacity. Or swapping neighborhoods of kids across town just to increase bussing problems. I can’t stress enough there are other options!!! To start, you must promote the year round program, market it, advertise it, give wake county the chance to redeem itself by showing what these schools have to offer. Dress up the older schools, make them more appealing to parents. Investigate potential leadership issues. But do something. Changing the calendar of East Cary is not the solution. It’s putting a band-aid on a bigger problem. We get it, all of these things I’ve mentioned take time and you’re in a pinch with new schools to fill & balancing the over-enrollment at other schools. While we all agree that none of us want to see ANY year round school converted to traditional, if you have to convert one, why East Cary? Both Salem & Lufkin Middle Schools have under-enrollment issues & are located 4 miles apart from each other, both in Apex. Why would you take away East Cary as year round school when it can serve a whole population on a different side of town than Salem & Lufkin. Since those schools are so close, it will be easier for those year round parents to absorb that change & still have the opportunity to be involved in the PTA/functions at the kids school. It would also help in regards to bussing & not having kids travel so far just to reach a year round option. Why are you not considering converting one of those schools & leaving East Cary as a year round calendar school? Why are you not considering leaving East Cary as a year round calendar, but with maybe only tracks 1, 2 & 4? Take out track 3 for now to get your operating expenses under control, but have the ability to add track 3 back in the future as the population grows. What about making East Cary a Magnet Year Round option? We don’t have a school like that yet! That helped the population of Reedy Creek transform in just a few years. It could do the same at East Cary. The other, most drastic option, that I don’t take lightly would to be to make the year round program 100% opt in. Draw a radius (or whatever makes most logistical sense) around every traditional school for that to be the schools base, don’t assign a base to any year round school. Give each year round school an opt-in radius that would cover several other traditional schools. For instance, if East Cary was year round, it would be the application option for all traditional calendars middle schools in the area, which would cover Reedy Creek Middle, West Cary Middle & Dillard Drive Middle school base areas. It would keep the alignment of feeder schools still flowing into feasible patterns minimizing busing while giving all families a reasonably located year round option & keep a sense of community. The only caveat with this last option is the county would have to commit to educating the public/marketing the year round program. I can’t stress this enough…You couldn’t hold back on informing the public about the year round programs or making year round schools 100% opt-in won’t work. If you give people information about the year round program & properly educate them on the benefits, you’ll be surprised about the results you’ll get.

We feel like you must know the benefits of the year round program, otherwise you wouldn’t be making schools like Alston Ridge Middle a year round school. But to us as parents, this is how we see it…our kids perform better on tests & don’t loose information over the summer break, our kids are happy tracking in & out ( 3 weeks is just enough time out for them to have a break, yet be eager to go back to school so see their friends), they go back ready to learn. The teachers are happier with breaks & are more effective teaching our kids. We get to spend more times with our kids by breaking up our vacations throughout the year & not competing with everyone else for vacation spots over the summer season. We also don’t have to compete to get our kids in overfilled summer programs, but get more flexibility with track out programs that are more readily available. We spend less on childcare & what we do spend gets broken up throughout the year, so it’s not such a burden with 13 weeks all at once. Plus, 13 weeks is a long time to take having them home or carting them to summer camps, there’s sanity for parents who get to track in & out with their kids. And let’s be real honest, the traditional calendar school was developed back in the day with daylight savings & designed for kids to help harvest the crops, times have changed. Year round school are schools of the future & isn’t that what we want for all of our students in wake county? Shouldn’t we all have that right?

So tonight is one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in my life. This isn’t just about what school my kid goes to, but this is about a fight for our way of life in the year round program. Everyone who has conceded their time to me tonight has a child at Adams Elementary. We are all afraid we see the writing on the wall too clear. If you convert East Cary to a traditional calendar school, Adams is next. Adams will continue to have a population decline if you make this change because what parent would enroll their kid in kindergarten at Adams on the year round program if they know ahead of time they will have to choose between the traditional calendar & a 30 minute drive to keep their kids in the year round program for Middle school? Parents look at the feeder patterns just like you do. They’re not blind. Our school system is complicated enough, why would they sign up to make it more complicated & their lives more burdensome? If you convert East Cary to a traditional calendar, I fear I’ll be here fighting to keep Adams year round in a year or two. I shouldn’t have to fight to have a reasonable year round option, I should have that right as a wake county resident. We’re begging you, look at all the factors. Keeping East Cary year round is better for our students & wake county tax payers. Please let us keep our way of life we love so much!

6 Votes
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Maura Jones 10 months ago

Thank you Leslie for being the voice for those that couldn't make it. You are speaking for many, not just yourself and I hope that is understood by the board!

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Yoganathan Kaliyaperumal 10 months ago

We live in Mills Park Middle School Base area. Since it was capped and East Cary Middle School is a stem school, we applied to East Cary MS school thro' application process. Now East Cary Middle School is being converted to traditional. Moreover by the new proposal my son has to go to Salem Middle School in Apex which is very far away from my house. I would strongly recommend having the cap issue resolved in Mills Park MS and have my son go back to this base school. I always think a school has to be somehow near home so that it would be convenient to enroll kids in all the after-school camp and pick up them in the evening.

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Shannon Langley 10 months ago

East Cary should remain year round. I understand that the board currently considers it under utilized as a year round school however this seems to be less about the calendar and more related to other factors. it does not seem prudent to me that the board would be building schools and stating that new schools must be year round to handle numbers but then would essentially throw away ~300 seats that are bought and paid for at ECMS. This seems short sighted. Prior to making this change, I suggest that the Board has a financial responsibility to explore other ways to make ECMS attractive. The base areas for both ECMS and Adams have long been tiny and disproportionately low income. While not optimum, an interim option might be to convert ECMS to a single track year round school for a period of time to address the current situation the board is trying to address and to then work to correct the larger issues that are keeping ECMS under enrolled. After that, the facility exist to handle increased numbers without capital expenditure for acquiring new land and building a new brick and mortar school. This move could be used to ease overcrowding to the west. The current proposal has our family mapped to Lufkin after finishing year round school at Adams. While this is presented as an option on paper, it is not a viable option to continue on the year round calendar since we live in west Raleigh and work in downtown Raleigh and at Rex Hospital. Lufkin is not proximate. I am sure it is a fine school. In summary, ECMS should remain year round. The Board should address the enrollment numbers to increase its attractiveness. This is both a logical and financially prudent measure. If there needs to be an immediate modification, a step to a single track year round may be an option until such time that numbers are increased. Many citizens in east Cary ands west Raleigh love year round schools and have opted in by applying for this option. Changing ECMS removes a viable option for these families. Thank you for your time and consideration.

4 Votes
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Maura Jones 10 months ago

You are so right. It does seem all the attention is going to new builds...what about those currently built? If they aren't maintained and updated more appropriately rebuilding them becomes the only option and at a high cost. I understand new is pretty and attracts attention, so make those standing 'prettier'. While I love the idea of multiple track options, if an alternate schedule single track make more sense I could support that. I do not support traditional scheduling at all. And as you pointed out....those in East Cary and West Raleigh have CHOSEN these schools.....don't take that option away as it gravely impacts us.

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Matt Dees admin 10 months ago

Parents, the Board of Education this afternoon will review and discuss possible alternatives to Draft 2 of the 2019-20 Student Enrollment Proposal. You can watch the Board Work Session live starting at 3:30 p.m. It will be archived here for later viewing. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1GpABK3JnUc

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Matt Dees admin 10 months ago

The board continued the Draft 2 discussion at the regular board meeting. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQ8aq2hCoKg&fbclid=IwAR31zdmZh7oYxXnbOVAepwxGb7kPppP_M4RELuKt1Ghbduv8nhLBG

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Leslie Douglas, Owner/Realtor of The Douglas Realty Group 10 months ago

I watched the video tonight with the work session & board meeting and I was beyond disappointed. The options the staff have come up with regarding Adams Families concerned about loosing ECMS as a year round option were gut punching. Adams families have been fighting for our right to keep a year round program on this side of Cary to service both Cary & Raleigh, not to loose both year round programs we have access to. We asked for you to keep East Cary Middle Year Round because there's not another viable year round option for students on that side of town, now your option is to take away our Year Round Elementary option?! Over 66% of Adams students opt into the year round program, where are we supposed to go? How are you going to widen Adams base as a traditional calendar to make up for all of the students you'll loose who won't choose to go to Adams because it's not a Year Round Program? Adams parents who've opted into Adams chose Adams for the Year Round calendar. We didn't choose it for test scores, technology or appearances, that's evident. We chose it for the calendar. So if you give us a calendar option will that also be 20-30 minutes from our homes? Will that involve sending my kids to elementary school in Morrisville & middle school in Apex? The drive between the 2 schools we could potentially be at will be at least 45 minutes? So I'd have to drive 30 minutes to school #1, drive 45 minutes to go to school #2 & then 30 minutes to get to work? How would I be able to get both kids to school on time when I'd have to cross Apex, Cary & Morrisville to get from one school to the other? Do those schools even have enough room for us? Are you going to kick us out of Adams because of the calendar & then deny us access to the year round programs when it's time to apply because those schools are already at capacity? Will we have to do hardship transfers into these schools? What about some of my fellow classmates who's traditional base is Farmington Woods? If you shut down Adams as year round, will they still be able to get into their base even if the grade/school is capped? The consequences of changing both of these schools to a traditional calendar could force parents to go to their traditional base school & further over crowd our traditional schools. If I have to go to my traditional calendar, that's Reedy Creek & we don't want the magnet program. I'd happily give up my seat there to stay in a year round program, but I can't afford an 1hr commute in the mornings & then again in the afternoon, so we'll be stuck with Reedy Creek when there's other students that are begging to go there. We live our lives by the year round calendar. We see the benefit to our kids education, to their social interaction with their peers, to the teachers & their energy to teach our kids, to our family units. We don't want a tradition calendar program. We won't stay at Adams if it's traditional. We're begging to stay in the year round program, let us stay. Keep Adams & ECMS year round!

I also think you should be aware that almost the entirety of the PTA will be forced out of Adams & the school will have to start their PTA from scratch. How does that look for a school that needs parent support? Where will they even begin? And all of the parents displaced are going to have significant drives to their new schools, limiting the time they'll be able to spend with the PTA's at their new schools and that is if you haven't disenfranchised them from getting involved & establishing roots at a school. We already have plans for who our PTA president will be next year, but if you change Adams to traditional, that president in waiting will be at another school.

We're all emotional & I don't mean to get harsh, but I feel like this is our last shot to convince you that changing the calendar at either school is not the option. You are failing our students if you choose to ignore the problems at East Cary. Mark Savage sat with a group of parents last week that choose not to send their younger sets of kids through ECMS after their older children graduated. They chose to send the kids to Reedy Creek instead. Mr Savage knows the problems, talk to him about them, look at fixing those problems. To change the calendar of ECMS to traditional is the cowards way out to fix your enrollment problem. Bringing in kids from Davis Drive & Reedy Creek is your way of balancing the test scores at the schools. Why are you not looking at solving the actual problems of the school? You could solve your problem with the schools reputation, meeting capacity & test scores, if you looked at the actual school, rolled up your sleeves & went to work addressing the actual problems. And then the school would be set up on a year round calendar to help handle the population growth that we can expect to come in the future, making ECMS & Adams part of a solution to overcrowding & not the problem. The question has to be asked, plenty of other parents buy into the year round program across the county, why aren't they buying into it at ECMS? Look at the school, not the calendar.

I'm trying to keep this as short as possible, but at the end of the day, I'm all about options. Complaining is not my thing without providing alternative solutions. The problems we're facing throughout the county are not going to be fixed with this plan & with the addition of new schools coming, this is going to be a topic constantly revisited. Logically it seems that your best course of action would be 4 steps #1-leave ECMS & Adams as year round calendars, lowering the displacement of the entire year round population on this side of town, as well as lowering your displacement of other children from schools like Davis Drive, Reedy Creek & West Cary, which will help a significant amount of families. #2-address the problems at ECMS to fix the school for the long term #3-focus your current plan on filing the new schools with displacing as few amount of students as possible. #4-start working on a bigger picture plan for the future that involves promoting the year round program, as well as transitioning to an assignment plan that stops bussing kids all across the county to balance your test scores. You don't have to roll out this plan now, give yourself a year or two to see improvements at ECMS, promote the year round calendar & come up with a comprehensive plan that makes logical sense for our county as a whole. We have to move to having a traditional school for every neighborhood with a blanket year round school option that covers multiple traditional calendar schools. The county is changing. Areas like downtown Raleigh are being gentrified & the demographics of those areas are in a huge flux. No one wants to hear the term "community schools", I get it. I grew up in WCPSS & I loved growing up in a school system that was so diverse. But that model is unsustainable at our current growth rate. We can't afford the bussing costs. If we just went to a community school plan, then we'd save money on bussing everyone around & could put that money towards the schools that need the extra help so they can increase their test scores through actual work, not gerrymandering the districts so the schools get the scores that you want purely by who you put in the seats. I know you can't accomplish this overnight, but it should be a long term goal for you & this current plan just makes your problems worse. Leave East Cary & Adams as year round schools. It will take some work, but could significantly help the county in the near future. I'll leave you with this. Mills Park started out as a year round school, but then you changed the calendar. Now Mills Park is capped & you're having to move kids all around to fix that problem. If it had stayed a year round school, you wouldn't be having your current over crowing problems at that school & now you can't change it back. If you change ECMS & Adams to traditional, you've sealed their fate. They'll never go back to year round. We have the evidence in front of our face at Mills Park. Don't make the same mistake. And I know you're argument will be that parents on "that side of town" don't like the year round program, I've heard this from a number of school board members about various areas of town, but I'll point this out ...you don't advertise the year round program, so what are they basing their decisions on? What information have you given them? And how are you collecting that data? Have you ever considered posting/sending out information on the year round program & then following it up with a survey of parents? Have you actually asked the parents? You may be surprised at the answer.

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Maura Jones 10 months ago

Leslie I agree with all of your comments above and would love to hear answers on them especially the reasoning for NOT advertising year round school options as they do magnet. Outside the Wake County Website being very difficult to navigate, there is minimal information on year round schooling....if you can find any! Why isn't the benefits of year round outlined and a clear explaination of the schedule so parents that are not familiar, can better understand. I know with talking to friends in other areas that go to traditional they have no concept of how year round works, despite having kids in school. After explaining it, not one hasn't responded with "Oh my gosh I had no idea, that sounds so logical and so much better for kids and parents". They all also say something along the lines of "what do you do with then during track out, isn't that so much harder to figure out"...but then expalinig the track out camps, the time between, the shifting of finances every few months vs. months at a time and how the kids look forward to it so much more....again you heard the "oh my gosh that is great I had no idea"! Anyone with understanding of marketing knows that advertisement sells...so advertise year round! Let parents understand it and I bet you will see an increase in enrollment. That is if the staffing also is changes at EC as that appears to be a significant issue/concern for parents here. Changing year round to traditional is not the answer.....

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Michael Albidrez 10 months ago

Thank you for posting this! I just posted a similar argument on the Davis Drive to East Cary thread. I hope the board has some major changes in Draft 3 for both of our threads!

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Marybeth Boyd 10 months ago

Very well stated Leslie! As a parent on "that side of town" I can say first hand that I absolutely LOVE year round! My older two went to Morrisville Elementary and I am seriously still mourning the loss of the year-round calendar. If there were year-round high schools I would never have switched all my kids to traditional. I need the stability of them all being on the same schedule. Hopefully the board is listening and we see some positive changes in Draft 3!

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Leslie Douglas, Owner/Realtor of The Douglas Realty Group 10 months ago

Thanks for reading it Michael & Marybeth, I know it was long! Love the support we're getting for the year round program from parents whose kids are in traditional! It really means a lot. Hate that you had to transition out of YR, but completely get it. I wish there were more year round options for everyone & that everyone knew the true benefits of the year round program.

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Sarah Deeb 10 months ago

Leslie, Thank you for your insightful comments. There was a significant focus during the work session last night regarding K-3 class size reduction, and the impending need for seats in those grades. Switching Adams Elementary to a traditional schedule makes zero sense! If a year round program can accommodate 25% more students than a traditional calendar school, and the county is desperate for seats, why would you make a decision that would LOWER your capacity. The county is also trying to align K-8 calendars. Seems like the best way to do that would be to keep Adams Elem, and ECMS as year round programs.

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Maura Jones 10 months ago

am writing today as a concerned parent of a 1st grader at Adams Elementary voicing my support for keeping East Cary Middle School and Adams Elementary School a year round school. It was my understanding Adam’s changing to traditional was removed from the options, however with watching the recent meeting, I again saw it as an option and was taken back.

I will start by saying I do not envy your job on the board. My job as an oncology nurse continues to fill my heart on a daily basis keeping me going back day after day….your role as a board member is so important but without so many thanks. So know that this letter/email is coming from a concerned parent that does respect your role to work with our community to help improve student achievement in our schools. Thank you for taking the time to read this and please, please let it help guide your decision to vote against changing our schools schedule.

The year prior to my daughter, Emma, enrolling in Kindergarten we were overwhelmed with options; base school, magnet schools, year round, charter and private. We toured over 7 schools both public and private and after meeting with the assistant principle at Adam’s Elementary, our choice was made. Our decision was made based on two things; the wonderful principles and very importantly the year round option.

I remember growing up and like most was enrolled in a traditional calendar school. I remember those summers being so long, the transition back into school being so hard and having to ‘catch up’ on what we previously learned. With much research I found the benefits of year round schools to be a perfect match for Emma and this past year proved this to be true. This research though was done by me which I found very odd. Wake County Website, along with being hard to navigate, had very little on year round schools, including how it works, why it can be an advantage for children and the reasons to elect to go to them. There was a plethera of that type of information on Magnet schools, why not year round when they have proven to be an ideal option which is growing in popularity here and elsewhere in the country. With that information out front, would that alone not help improve enrollment? We witnessed just as Emma was hitting a burn out period with the structures of school she would track out. She would have that 3 week break and be able to return to school rested and ready to again learn. She didn’t push back returning to school because the break was just long enough. On top of the emotional aspect I found we didn’t have to backtrack and reinforce studies she had previously learned. I understand that the shorter breaks decrease learning loss and allow educators the opportunity to get the most out of the 180 days that most states mandate for instruction. In addition the attendance rate is higher in year round schools. Aren’t those good things to help our student achieve success in our schools?

With being a working mom the year round option was convenient and easy to find camps for 2-4 weeks vs. 3 months long, along with being able to space out the costs. With those 3 months I can visualize again a burn out from just camps for Emma and then the financial impact of 3 months of camps for one or more children. How do lower income families afford 3 months of camp in a row? The surrounding area around Adam’s is not the richest in the county and I believe that should be looked at. My research showed that studies have shown the children from low-income families stand to benefit the most from year round schooling. Part of it has to do with the fact that shorter breaks help the children retain the information better, and part of it is that it helps keep the impoverished children out of trouble. While wealthier parents can afford summer camps and babysitters; many low-income parents have to leave their child home alone unattended while they go to work. Year round schooling keeps children in the books and off the streets.

On top of the the parent/child benefits, there seems to be large financial benefit for the county as well by providing savings with salaried administrators, reduction in text books and desks, reducing the need for substitute teachers, and maximizing the use of the school. But you know all that. Please take your focus off changing the school calendar and finding a way to increase enrollment. I understand there has been a drive to update its appearance, which is wonderful and hopefully this will catch the eye of new parents. As with so many new schools are being built people get blinded by the aesthetics vs. looking at why the kids are there; to learn. And Adam’s Elementary has so much to offer in the learning department and helping to support and foster that continued growth through a year round calendar.

With Adams being 75% application, what is the expectation the board has of enrollment changes if the calendar year changes? I can honestly say if the calendar year changes I don’t know what we will do but I know we will likely look for alternate schooling. Our drive there was the calendar year and then the staff. I believe, with talking to a significant amount of parents, that will be the case for the majority of them and that doesn’t include trying to send them miles farther to an alternate year round school as that is not reasonable. As well as the likelihood of our kids not all getting in because of the over crowding. With talking to staff at Adams, I have heard a handful are indifferent of the change while the majority strongly oppose it and support the year round option.

As for East Cary Middle, with taking part in the meetings, reading the forums and talking to other parents with older children, the one thing that stands out the most to me is the staffing change leading to parent, student and staff unhappiness. This then trickled into parents pulling their kids out despite wanting the year round and teachers leaving. My understanding these actions began soon after the principle currently there was hired; has this been truly looked at? In the meetings in the past I have heard this brought up but it seems to be immediately be pushed aside as if it wasn’t a concern, but it is and has very clearly been vocalized. Would it not be the responsible action to seriously look into the hard numbers of hiring and enrollment suffering prior to making drastic changes that affect hundreds?

Spending hours combing through the forums the overwhelming support for keeping Adams and East Cary year round is apparent. How do you then feel there is another option? Wouldn’t the more appropriate and logical solution be to look at another way? Increase STEM, look at the time start, look at the staffing? Make the school more appealing to encourage it’s growth rather than take away the one great thing it does have going for it; the year round schedule.

Please hear your community. Stand up for those that elect you and don’t alter our school schedules, but rather help support them by improving them from the inside.

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Ngoc Hulbig 10 months ago

Hello there, ECMS and Adams families! I am a DDMS-to-ECMS parent but wanted to re-post portions of my comments in our forum that relate to ECMS.

Before I do that, I want to say that I fully agree with those of you who have posted that WCPSS needs to step up its efforts to market (or even explain) the YR program on its website. Because (surprise!) proximity is so important to our family, I have been looking at our YR application school even though the misaligned calendars between my children would wreak havoc on our family for a total of 4 years. It took me forever to even figure out how to to apply (I stumbled upon it), and I think it is unfair to make us have to choose between magnets and the YR program. Those should be separate consecutive application periods. I wish that there was more information about the YR program readily available. I will be going to one of the information sessions, but WCPSS needs to make this program more accessible online (especially for families moving to the area). I was at the Cary High meeting and have read through your forum and have learned so much. If I had known all of this information when I first moved back to NC, I might have chosen the YR path for my children.

Anyway, here are the sections of my post from the DDMS-to-ECMS forum:

Before I go into the 5 options put forth by staff for our node, I first want to address the shaky foundation that many of this assignment plan’s most contentious proposals have been built on—namely that East Cary Middle is underutilized because of its calendar. It is clear to me--from the ECMS forum, from reading online reviews from years past, from listening to ECMS parents at the public meetings and board meetings, and from talking with past and current ECMS parents—that ECMS’ issues do NOT stem from being year-round. On the contrary, ECMS was a highly sought after school just a few years ago that had a waitlist. Now, it is not. I am very frustrated that instead of trying to fix the underlying issues at ECMS, WCPSS’ solution is to change the calendar. This one proposal requires so many dominoes to needlessly be knocked over. Because WCPSS believes ECMS is underutilized due to its calendar:

  1. Families proximate to Adams and ECMS now have to travel all the way to Lufkin to remain YR. If there are not enough YR students to fill Alston Ridge, Lufkin, Salem and ECMS, then why not flip an additional elementary school or two to feed into ECMS? If you have to convert one school from YR to traditional, why not either Lufkin or Salem (as they are so close) so that ECMS can stay YR for the families in that part of Cary? Or leave ECMS YR but increase its base area? Or leave ECMS YR and use satellite zoning to increase its base area? WCPSS could make the school more attractive to families needing a traditional calendar by dropping a track and doubling up on Track 4. Track reduction could be temporary until ECMS reaches capacity. Or how about making ECMS a magnet school and give it the funding and support required for programming that will attract more students? Or increase marketing efforts; devote some space on the WCPSS website explaining the program, how to apply, etc. If there is information on there now, it is well buried. Irrespective of any issues with the school’s administration, there are so many options to increase enrollment and student achievement at ECMS that do not require an artificial and surface-level fix through student assignment.
  2. Families at Reedy Creek are being asked to leave their school to fill seats at ECMS. While they are a little more proximate to ECMS than our node, they have put forth strong arguments as to why they should be able to stay at their school.
  3. Families in our node, who all live between 0.4-1.8 miles of DDMS and whose children can walk/bike to school, are to be shipped across town 6-7 miles to ECMS. (Please see this entire forum for reasons why that doesn’t make sense.)
  4. The ~350 students who have chosen to go to ECMS from outside of the base area for the YR round program now are out of luck.
  5. WCPSS actually loses seats by making ECMS traditional, which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense given that Fenton (at least 800 homes projected for the mixed use development) and other developments are coming downtown.
  6. Some of the proposed calendar application school changes also are due to ECMS changing to traditional.
  7. Let’s not forget the bus system, which now will have to cart students that can walk/bike in our node all the way to ECMS through or around downtown Cary in rush hour traffic, and also will have to cart YR students from the ECMS area all the way to Apex.
  8. The buses also will exacerbate the traffic and congestion during rush hour.
  9. Finally, and most importantly perhaps, because WCPSS is not addressing the underlying issues causing low enrollment at ECMS, the problems will continue. Changing the calendar and pumping in new students from elsewhere will not fix the underlying problems. A school cannot thrive if its students are forced to be there. You have over 900 students at ECMS right now that want to be there. You have Adams Elementary families that want their kids to go there for middle school. You have about 350 students that applied to ECMS because they want to be there. If WCPSS wants to make ECMS a success, then give tools and resources to the students and families that want to attend. Don’t ship them off to Apex! Don’t try to “help student achievement” by pumping in kids from other schools that will NOT want to be at ECMS, whose parents are NOT willing to make the much longer drive to the school to volunteer.
In sum, it simply does not make sense to me that WCPSS would go through all this trouble, causing so much stress to so many families who all just want to stay at their current school, to fix a problem that cannot be fixed with a student assignment plan.

And also this section:

Option 3 is the Satellite Zoning/Spot Node solution that so many of us have been advocating. It addresses parent concerns and helps WCPSS meet its goals while at the same time minimizing the impact on students and families.

  1. Satellite areas from Mills Park Middle would increase the base area for ECMS, helping Operational Efficiency and Student Achievement. The downsides listed by staff are that ECMS is “not proximate” for the Mills Park areas and that would result in “much longer bus ride and not efficient.” I would note that ECMS is not proximate to our node either, and that bus rides for our kids also would be much longer and not efficient. Indeed, some kids that would not need buses at all would need to be bused a far distance. Mills Park is further from ECMS than we are, but WCPSS buses students from Raleigh to DDMS, which is about the same distance or more. WCPSS also is planning to bus ECMS-area kids who want to stay year round that same distance or more. Why is it ok for the YR round kids to have the longer and more inefficient bus rides? But somehow it may be a problem to bus kids that don’t even exist yet to ECMS?
  2. Another benefit of Option 3 is that WCPSS can use satellite zoning to increase utilization and student achievement at ECMS WITHOUT changing their calendar. WCPSS can just use satellite zoning to ADD TO the over 900 students that already are at ECMS and WANT to be there. Isn’t this a much cleaner and efficient solution than converting ECMS to traditional, shipping the students proximate to ECMS 11 miles away, and then shipping students proximate to other schools all the way to ECMS? All while maintaining the full capacity of 1268 students to take the overflow from crowded schools in West Cary? Why would WCPSS cut capacity at a school where there are viable options to maintain it?
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Sarah Atai 10 months ago

I live in Preston Forest and for all the reasons stated above, I support Option 3. Please keep our students and DDMS and keep ECMS year-round!

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Celeste Smith 10 months ago

I was really hoping to see in Draft 3 that this would be removed.... that East Cary would remain year round. To allow my rising 8th grader to remain in a school, with teachers and staff she is accustomed to, with friends she has made(which was not easy do to being the only East Cary kids to go to the school based on our address's yr round option)... to go traditional, now have 2 calendars for our family, so that our other children too, can stay with people they know and trust. Come on Wake County, make up your mind and figure out that all these changes that you require your families to go through EVERY YEAR it seems, is detrimental to these children. My house did not move, so my school shouldnt either...

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