Traditional, Year Round and Magnet Schools….Oh My!!

Many parents moving to this area are confused by the Wake County School System. Most are coming from an area where you move to a neighborhood because you wanted to go to an associated school and when they hear of the way we have our school assignment structured their head spins.

For the 2012-2013 school year there are no longer any “base schools”. The school system gives each student a variety of choices as to the school they attend which includes traditional schools, year-round schools and magnets that can be traditional or year- round. Confused yet? I bet you are.

The best place to start to figure out which school your child will attend is with the School Assignment Look up page at: http://wwwgis2.wcpss.net/prod/assignmentLookup/assignmentLookupMain.php Here a parent can input their current address or the address of a home they are considering buying to see what schools are associated with that home. One other thing to mention is that any child attending any Wake County public school will be provided with publich school busing to and from school.

There is an upside to the way Wake County currently assigns schools – variety. There are a lot of options for parents to find a school that best serves the needs of their child. Here is a brief description of each type of school taken from Wake Countys School’s website:

Traditional  Calendar Schools – Traditional  calendar schools follow a “typical” school calendar with a 180-day  instructional school calendar beginning in late August and ending in early June  with the summer months off.  2012-13  Traditional Calendar (PDF)

Year-Round  and Modified Calendar Schools – Students at year-round and modified calendar schools attend class the same number of  days and receive the same curriculum as students at traditional calendar schools. These schools simply reschedule the traditional 180-day school  calendar to keep the learning process continuous and to maximize the use of  school buildings. WCPSS operates its year-round schools as multi-track, year-round schools. This means that the students in the school are organized  into four groups or “tracks.” Each track follows a different schedule. The  schedules are staggered so that at any given time, three of the tracks are in  school and one track is out on break. This system is a “45/15 Schedule” meaning  the pupils are in school for 45 days, then off for 15, through the year. Modified  calendar schools follow a schedule similar to year-round schools, but the  entire school is on a single track. 2012-13  Multitrack Year-Round Calendar (PDF) 2012-13  Modified Calendar (PDF)

Magnet Schools – Magnet  schools are public schools operating within the Wake County Public School  System that optimize use of facilities by using unique programs such as  Creative Arts & Science, Engineering and Montessori to attract families. They follow the Common Core State Standards and Essential Standards and offer enhancements  to the curriculum based on a theme or an approach to learning. Any student  enrolled/pre-registered in the Wake County Public School System is eligible to  participate in the magnet selection process during the selection period each  year. For  more information about the magnet school offerings visit the Magnet website or  call the Magnet Resource Center, 919-431-7355.

My children attend a traditional calendar magnet school called Washington Gifted and Talented Elementary in downtown Raleigh. We are very happy with this school in that it offers the core courses needed by every child (reading, writing, arithmatic), but after that we are allowed to pick the rest of the classes they attend. Exciting – yet, a bit stressful – yes. At the beginning of each year we are provided a book of the courses available to each child including some interesting titles such as Fairy Tales & Fables (literature), Destination Travel Agent (geography), Creepy Creatures (science), or Time, Temperature & Money (math). I would have loved to have had such exciting classes in elementary school.

One of the main drawbacks I see in allowing parents to choose schools outside of their home area is that we lose a sense of community for our families. There’s no more walking home from school with all your neighbors or when you start soccer in the spring you know 9 out of 10 kids on the team because you go to school with them. At this point though, it’s what we have and I am pretty happy with it. But of course it could all change next year!

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