Cris Mulder 0

Convert Highcroft Drive Elementary to Traditional Calendar

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Convert Highcroft Drive Elementary to Traditional Calendar

Last year over 350 parents signed a petition urging the Wake County School Board to convert Highcroft Drive Elementary back to traditional calendar. Our voiced concerns were not addressed.

We are appealing to the Board to convert Highcroft back to traditional calendar for the following reasons:

Under-utilization impacts ability to meet differentiated instructional needs

Based on the 20-day count report, Highcroft is operating at 72% capacity with 777 students of 1,067 available seats as a year-round calendar.

-       Track 2 was completely collapsed.

-       With many families forced to split-calendar schedules with our base middle school (Mills Park Middle) operating on traditional calendar, Track 4 has needed to accommodate 50% of the students.  

-       This has sub-optimized administrators and teachers ability to differentiate instruction:

·         Challenges with load balancing by abilities, student dynamics, and teacher-student match

·         Challenges with team teaching, planning and mentoring

·         Challenges with scheduling and offering student learning activities and opportunities aligned with learning pace and timing                                     

Dollars and sense?

Mandatory year round conversion of schools, including Highcroft, was made due to the exploding 2006-07 student enrollment that exceeded growth projections. However, the rapid development and growth projections forecasted in our area has not occurred as we continue a slow recovery from the economic recession.

Highcroft is a walk-in community school, with only five school buses required to transport the 777 student population. With capacity at neighboring year-round schools (Alston Ridge, Morrisville, and Carpenter), it does not make sense to continue to operate Highcroft Drive Elementary as a YR application school. Continuing to do so will continue to have/require:

-       High administrative costs associated with track changes and transfer requests due to split family schedules

-       Unnecessary costs for utilities  (only 400 students attend the school when track 4 is out)

-       Additional budget for bus transportation of application, transfer students or further node shifts to bring a greater student population.  

North Carolina is going to experience a $3.5billion shortfall next year. Wake County Schools alone could stand to lose up to $89million in federal dollars: $48million that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that contributed to the current budget and potentially another $41million in federal money that the state routed to the school system as a one-time fill-in after direct state funding was slashed.

Continuing to operate in this fashion is fiscally irresponsible.

Splintering communities and families

Studies have shown that strong parent and community involvement and participation has a positive influence on academic performance, while schools gain important allies. However, with Highcroft remaining on a split calendar from the base middle school, our community is experiencing:

-       Emotionally strained families trying to balance split calendars schedules.

-       PTA burn-out due to the amount of time and effort to orchestrate activities multiple times for tracked in/out students.

-       A weakening base of parents who are able to volunteer and contribute financially.

-       Frustrated communities as home values are being negatively impacted. Potential buyers are not interested in purchasing homes with their base elementary and middle schools operating on different calendars.  

When the Board administered a 2009 survey on calendar schedules and student assignment, our nodes responded without knowledge that our base middle school would be converted to a traditional calendar.  The survey results reflected that we were in favor of student learning. We were in favor of stability. We were in favor of options that included a same feeder school calendar option for both elementary and middle. We were in favor of keeping families on the same schedule. And we were in favor of continuing to build upon our community and draw upon the strengths of our strong school-parent involvement. 

Convert Highcroft Drive Elementary to traditional calendar.

Do not overlook us this year. Make the decision to provide our children with an excellent education, be fiscally sound, and strengthen school communities.

Cris Mulder



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