Thursday, November 30, 2006

Don't Give Up!

Below, you'll find a letter that a Leesville Elementary parent sent to a School Board member who had responded to an earlier email. Whether you agree with her points or not, I applaud this parent for taking the time to write. There have been some flickers of hope out there, but if the flame is going to grow, it is imperative that we get everyone we know to continue to call and email County Commissioners, School Board members, and General Assembly members. You can find contact information in the right hand column of this blog. On Monday, December 4th, the newly-elected Co. Comm. members will be officially sworn in. After that, their contact info. will be available, and I'll post it as soon as I get it.


Thanks for the response.  I do appreciate the fact that you looked at the overcrowding issue, but in the case of Leesville Elementary School there are a couple of other factors that I think should be considered.  (in no particular order)

#1 The modulars and trailers do not bother the parents---right now 2 of my 4 children are in trailers for the 4th year in a row.  Yes, it would be more convenient to have everyone inside the building, but if our choice is modulars OR Mandatory Year Round, I guarantee the GREAT majority would choose modulars in order to keep the teachers and wonderful learning situation we have at Leesville.

#2  So many of our teachers and Teaching Assistants have children at the middle and/or high school.  (and many Leesville Middle and High School teachers have children at the elementary school too)   We will lose countless quality, experienced teachers in the Leesville Schools if the elementary school is forced to convert to a year-round schedule.  As you may be aware, the substitute teachers we currently have to choose from are "substandard" at best.  I can't imagine where you'll be able to find quality teachers to fill the spots that will be vacated if we have to switch to a year-round schedule.  (on top of filling new positions)

#3  Leesville Elementary, Middle, and High School are a true "campus".  You can walk from the south end of the elementary school to the north end of the high school without walking outside.  It just makes sense to have all 3 schools on the same calendar.

#4  There is NO MORE LAND available for home building around Leesville Elementary, so the population in our immediate geographic region can NOT grow anymore.  If your re-assignment plan for this current school year had been enforced,  that would have helped a little, but with the space still available at Brier Creek and the new year-round Elementary School opening at Leesville and Norwood in 2008, there will be plenty of space for the students currently at Leesville Elementary who are geographically closer to the new school.  This will definitely ease the overcrowding.  One more year of trailers and modulars is REASONABLE in order to allow the new school to open and see what impact it has on the Leesville Elementary population.

#5 By allowing Leesville Elementary School to stay on the traditional calendar, all incoming 6th graders to the middle school will be on the same calendar.  (I'm not sure if it's 100%, but if not, it's very close)  Leesville Elementary School is the largest feeder school to the middle school and should be on the same calendar as the middle school.

I realize that there are many working parents who enjoy the year-round calendar, especially with their daycare/track-out options they have available.  BUT, these parents who desire year-round schooling DO have the choice to send their children to year-round schools if that's their CHOICE.  I chose to be a stay-home Mom in order to be available for my children and their school WHENEVER needed, and to be able to spend every minute when they're not in school WITH MY CHILDREN---AS A FAMILY.  I don't view school as childcare, and I look forward to having my children home with me.  I value our time spent together.   If 2 of my children are in school while the other 2 are out, our entire family is NOT together.  Maybe that's a little old-fashioned and not what's considered "cool" or  "in" for the year 2006 but I really don't care.  I know that in this day and age, many people don't value Family like I do, but that doesn't mean I should be forced to put my family time lower on the priority list because I'm being FORCED to do something and not given a choice.

We purchased our home within walking distance of the Leesville Schools so that our children could attend their "neighborhood school".    We did NOT even look at the magnet or year-round schools for this very reason.  Leesville Schools were (and still are) where we want our children to go to school.  Now, if we are forced to convert to a multi-track year round schedule, there is a strong chance that all of our neighbor's kids will be on DIFFERENT schedules as well.  If families who are geographically closer to another elementary school need to be reassigned, that's just one of many options available before forcing us to make the year-round conversion.

We even supported the recent bond, realizing that the bond and Mandatory Year Round were 2 separate issues and I know that was #1 on the school board's list.  HOWEVER, I truly did trust that our concerns with Mandatory Year Round would be addressed once the bond passed, and now it seems as though it's been swept under the carpet as a "done deal".

I know that you are all working hard, and doing what you consider "your best", and I do thank you for it.  But instead of a making a strict "business decision", it would be greatly appreciated if you would put more emphasis on the emotional impact this will have on families. 

Sometimes it's OK do what feels right and not just what appears right on paper.  I think you'd be pleasantly surprised with the results.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Spending the Bond Money

Just to refresh memories about where the bond money will go - this from the N&O (italics are mine):


The bonds will pay for most of a $1.056 billion plan that will:

•Build 17 new schools, including 15 year-round elementary and middle schools.

Convert 22 schools to a year-round calendar next year.

•Purchase land for 13 future schools (all of which are to be year-round except for any


•Renovate 13 schools.

•Make smaller repairs at 100 schools.

•Purchase new computers.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Read and Respond!

Be sure to read this great letter in today's N&O. Ron Margiotta is reminding leaders of some pre-election promises they made to parents opposed to the forcing of year-round schools. We need to join in and email, call, etc., School Board members, County Commissioners, and the WCPSS administration and let them know that we are watching the situation very carefully and that we will hold them accountable to keep their word. I also encourage you to write letters to the editor in support of Ron's words, and to contact Ron as well. I'm sure he can use all the encouragement he can get.

(Click on appropriate email groups to the right)

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Another Take

WTVD news reported a different take on the public/private partnership issue. I don't know enough about it yet to determine if it's something Wake County should jump on. Here's the report:

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Who Works for Whom?

I find this article (

in today's News and Observer, disturbing, but not surprising. It reports that Wake County school administrators have "put the brakes" on the School Board's thoughts of looking into the idea of developers building and leasing public schools. Many believe that schools could be built faster that way, thus decreasing the need for so many MYR schools. Regardless of how you feel about such a plan, I should think you would join me in asking, "How can administrators put a halt to something that our School Board proposes?" Correct me if I'm wrong, but the Administration's role is to advise and do research for the School Board, not to control them. Yet, the latter is exactly what appears to have been happening for many, many decisions.

In this particlar article, reasons are given as to why administrators want to put the idea on a back burner. Even if the reasons are legitimate, comments such as this one concern me: "With $1 billion approved, we don't have to commit to a lot more alternatives" (Don Haydon, chief facilities and operations officer.)  Hopefully his words were taken out of context. But the tone of the entire article suggests that the Administration is still not willing to support options which would  decrease the number of MYR schools in Wake County.

Wake School Board members are not obligated to follow the wishes or the advice of  WCPSS administrators. They were elected by US, to represent the students of Wake County. We need to continue to push for any viable option that would cut down on the number of MYR schools being proposed. Our elected officials should not shy away from seriously considering solutions that could improve Wake's growth predicament. Read the N&O article for yourself. If you agree with my assessment, I would urge you to join me in reminding our School Board not to forget who works for whom. 

Monday, November 13, 2006


School officials plan to hold three meetings around the county to share information being used to build schools and assign students.

The meeting times and locations are:

1) Nov. 20 -- Leesville Road High School at 8409 Leesville road.

2) Nov. 27 -- Knightdale High School at 100 Bryan Chalk Lane.

3) Nov. 30 -- Middle Creek High school at 123 Middle Creek Park Ave.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

FYI - Wake Education Partnership Survey

 Wake Education Partnership sent this out on Wednesday. This group was a huge bond advocate, and sent out a lot of pro-bond information. Just thought I'd pass it along---


Nov. 7, 2006

Citizens Asked for Feedback Following Bond Referendum

RALEIGH – Wake County citizens are invited to offer feedback about the results of the Nov. 7 school bond referendum starting at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 8, at

Wake Education Partnership, an independent local education fund committed to world-class public schools in Wake County, wants input from citizens across the county about how they voted on the bond and what our community needs to do for the future of our schools after the election.

Responses to the survey are anonymous and will be shared with school and county leaders to help them better understand the referendum results.

Questions in the short online survey include:

• What does our community – including the school system and county government – need to do following the bond vote to address the concerns of those who opposed the bond?

• As Wake County moves forward following the Nov. 7 school bond referendum, what does our community need to do to meet the demand for school facilities to accommodate future growth in Wake County?

The survey will be available online through Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2006.

Wake Education Partnership is an independent local education fund that mobilizes resources, leverages relationships and convenes the community to ensure that Wake County prepares our students for lifelong learning in a competitive global economy. Since 1983, the Partnership has worked together with the business and civic community to build public responsibility for world-class schools in Wake County. Programs for 2006-07 focus on retaining effective teachers, developing effective education leaders, and ensuring healthy schools for all students. For more information, please visit

# # #


Cyndi Soter O'Neil

Director of Marketing and Communications

Wake Education Partnership

919.821.7609 ext. 28

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

What to Say.........

Well, here it is, the morning after the election. I'm sure I'm not the only one who had a sleepless night,  listening to, and coming to grips with, the election results. To be perfectly honest, I don't know exactly what to say right now. Like everyone else, I need some time today to reflect on things, and to pray about the next course of action. Of course, it's a given that I'll continue to speak out against the forcing of year-round school attendance, even if it won't change immediate plans. My heart just breaks for those who will face conversion, and I am so, so sorry.

I'm planning to post a "What Does It All Mean?" letter on my blog sometime today. Hopefully, that will shed some light on what will happen now. It's tempting (even for me) to just throw in the towel and give up,  but that would be a grave mistake. If we weaken our resolve to oppose MYR schools, it would only serve to open wide the door for School Board members and others to exercise "free rein" in implementing all sorts of questionable plans.

With time,  disappointment and disbelief will give way to renewed determination. In the meantime, rest assured that efforts to minimize the forcing of year-round school attendance have not been in vain. You have made, and will continue to make,  a difference. That much I know.


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election Day Thoughts

In my opinion, if the bond referendum passes today, polling booths will hardly have time to sit empty before school officials put into high gear their mandatory year-round conversion plans. Why, they have already been busy meeting with teachers and parents about the switch, pairing up PTAs to help each other out in the transition period, and much more. You would think the bond had already passed! Anyway, those who oppose the forcing of year-round schools will hardly have time to turn around before the attempt is made to put any hope of an alternate plan out of reach.

Should the bond fail, Wake County will find itself in a precarious situation. But, at least MYR opponents will have a chance of garnering support for alternative solutions. Many see this as the only hope they have left. As I've said before, what a shame. It didn't have to be this way......


I think opinions on the bond boil down to two things, mainly:

1) how harmful you believe the massive forcing of year-round schools is (I can't, for the sake of our children, compromise on it, knowing what I know)

2) whether or not you believe the current CIP plans will be negotiable once the bond passes (I don't - based on research, I am convinced that MYR plans in Wake County are part of a much larger agenda, and that once MYR schools start increasing in number, there will be no stopping the momentum)

For my part, wishful thinking is not going to put an end to something that I believe is wrong.

Each of us has come to this table with different sets of experiences, different levels of knowledge about the subject matter, different needs, and different values. I just hope we can refrain from making assumptions, generalizations, and accusations.

I pray that people will get out and vote, and not take for granted the precious rights that we have as citizens of the United States of America. I also pray that civility and respect will rule the day, regardless of the outcome.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Setting the Record Straight Before November 7th

Dear Fellow Citizens (and Friends) of Wake County,

We are just days away from November 7, when Wake County residents will head to the polls. As the controversy surrounding the bond referendum continues to escalate, misperceptions and distortions are running rampant. Though lack of time and space prohibit me from sharing with you all of my thoughts on this multi-faceted subject, I cannot rest easy until I at least set the record straight on several points. 

First of all, I have always made it a practice not to divulge how I vote, and not to tell others how they must vote. I trust that the citizens of Wake County are savvy enough to make up their own minds, based on the facts. The problem is, however, that selective fact sharing and/or the omission of pertinent facts have created an unfair playing field. 

Consider, for example, the decision by bond proponents to keep under lock and key the fact that over five hundred million dollars  of the bond money is specifically designated for forcing year-round school attendance, as laid out in the School Board's Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). The plan calls for 19 existing and 18 new elementary schools, plus 3 existing and 8 new middle schools to operate on a forced year-round calendar, and that's only part of the package. 

Regardless of how you feel about mandatory year-round schools, you should be aware of these plans. Without this piece of information, people are jumping to the conclusion that all of those who oppose the forcing of a year-round schedule are against building badly-needed new schools. That is absolutely not true. As a matter of fact, there are many anti-mandatory year-round folks who support the bond. Thousands of others who oppose the bond for the sole reason of the mandatory year-round plans would be some of the most ardent bond advocates if those plans were dropped. In other words, they support education and want to vote in favor of new construction and renovations.

Why can't they? Because they do not view the bond referendum as simply a vote about "numbers". Groups such as Friends of Wake County are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to convince voters that, and I quote, "a vote of 'yes' for the bond has very little to do with year-round schools." They insist that they are only about the business of raising money in the "most equitable, economical, and accountable way." If that is truly the case, then why have they joined others in alienating thousands and thousands of potential "yes" voters? Why haven't they been leading the charge to eliminate spending over half a million dollars on mandatory year-round schools? Why haven't they pushed for the exploration of other options (many have been offered) to handle Wake County's growth challenges, and still build the badly needed new schools?

While raising money for education is a noble cause for bond advocates to champion, HOW that money will be spent is, and should be, the focus of the voters. Parents, teachers, and other citizens can't just look at this bond from a money standpoint only. They have to form opinions based on the educational pros and cons, the impact on their families, employment repercussions, etc., etc. That's why the bond and forced year-round schooling can't be separated.

My logical mind cannot begin to fathom how bond advocates could expect any individual to support a venture that propagates the very object of their aversion! I can only assume that they are unable to comprehend the depth of passion and the research-based knowledge behind objections to the forcing of a non-traditional calendar. The notion by some that this is only about selfish desires for an extra 2-week summer beach vacation illustrates a shallow understanding that is sad at best. Folks - this issue goes DEEP - maybe I'll expound upon that at a later time. There are many things that I would urge, and have urged, folks to compromise on, but I cannot, and will not, encourage someone to betray their principles, sacrifice what they know is best for their child, and turn against everything that is near and dear to their heart. 

This letter is already much longer than I intended, and I apologize for that! I might try to send a follow-up to this email, with additional examples of misperceptions that need to be cleared up. In the meantime, I thank you for your time and attention to this matter. If you want to know more about how Wake citizens (not just parents) will be affected by our School Board's plans, I urge you to read this important fact sheet, as well as this letter with revealing quotes from a teacher and from a parent (with a later update from that parent here). Remember that you can go to and read letters that I have posted as far back as last year, explaining in great length my thoughts and suggestions.

Research the facts, think long-range as well as short-term, and cast your vote on November 7!

May God's blessings be with you-