Editorial: Getting away from a good idea

August 16, 2013 

Wake County voters are going to be asked this fall to cast a ballot on an $810 million school construction bond.

The plan would build 20 new schools and fund renovations at about 90 others.

It’s downright impossible to argue that Wake’s schools continue to grow. More children enroll year after year after year.

Whether Wake County needs all those new seats will be debated right up until the polling places close on election night.

Lost in the conversation, though, is the idea of reinstating year-round schools.

The concept was so foreign that nearly everyone fought it when the idea was introduced about 20 years ago.

But once they were instituted at some schools, parents, students and teachers discovered something odd: they liked year-round schools.

The quarterly breaks gave teachers and students a chance to refuel. And giving 25 percent of a student body time off meant more space for additional students.

Since the year-round concept was instituted changes have been made. Now several year-round schools are on a modified calendar, which means every student in that school is off at the same time. Three weeks later, they all return.

That defeats the effort to provide more seats in classrooms.

We understand the difficulties encountered by schools and students who want to participate in extracurricular activities, but we are forced to ask ourselves if schools are in business to produce great football and basketball players or great minds.

To pass a bond, school leaders need to show voters that every existing space is being used as efficiently as possible.

Right now, that’s just not the case.

And, while we might join others in lamenting the loss of a traditional summer vacation, we also know $810 million is a lot to ask voters to support. Without showing voters that they have been good stewards of public resources, the school board and the county commissioners might find that this year’s bond issue is too big a bite to swallow.

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