Navigating Wake County Public Schools Part 2: Understanding Calendar Options

Wake County offers three major calendar options for families:

Traditional Schools

It’s all in the name. Traditional schools follow the classic August-June timeline that is generally in line with what’s happening in the rest of the country. Take a peek at a traditional calendar by scrolling down to the “Traditional Calendar” heading on the WCPSS School Calendars page.

A traditional calendar school has a long summer vacation followed by a 10 month school year. Within the 10 month school year you can expect a Thanksgiving break in the fall, Winter Break in late December, and a Spring Break around Easter. There are additional occasional days off for national holidays or teacher workdays.

All WCPSS high schools are on a traditional calendar, with the exception of Southeast Raleigh High School which runs on a modified calendar. Many elementary and middle schools are also on a traditional calendar.

Reasons why some families prefer a traditional school calendar include:

  • Younger students are on the same schedule as their high school siblings.
  • Working parents do not need to arrange child care as frequently.
  • A longer break during the transition between grade levels.
  • A better fit for kids who have difficulty with transitions.
  • Middle school athletes are always in school for their sports season.

Year-Round Schools

Year-round schools are a new concept for lots of families moving to the area. Take a peek at a year-round calendar by scrolling down to the “Year-Round Calendar” heading on the WCPSS school calendars page.

A year-round school operates all 12 months of the year. A student in a year-round school is placed on one of four tracks. Generally there is a 9 week stretch of school followed by a 3 week “track out.” Year-round schools also have a winter break in late December and a week off in July that usually falls the week of Independence Day.

If you register before the school year starts, you will be asked your preferences of what track you’d like your child to be on. WCPSS takes parent preferences into consideration but will ultimately assign your child a track based on space. If you are enrolling after the start of the school year, you may have fewer options if your desired track is already full.

Reasons why some families prefer a year round school calendar include:

  • Students and teachers may feel less burn out due to more frequent breaks during the year.
  • Less summer loss of learning because breaks are shorter.
  • Families can take vacations during less expensive, less crowded travel seasons.

Keep in mind:

  • You might not be placed on your preferred track.
  • Year-round students may be on a different schedule than their high school siblings.
  • Middle school athletes still need to attend sports practices during track outs.

Modified Calendar Schools

A handful of Wake County schools operate on a modified calendar. These school calendars feel like a hybrid between traditional and year-round. They operate from late July to late May and offer all students the same two week “track outs” in the fall and the spring. Additionally, these students also have a winter break in late December. You can see the modified school calendar by scrolling down to the “Modified Calendar” heading on the WCPSS School Calendars page.

These are the schools currently following a modified calendar schedule:

  • Southeast Raleigh High School
  • Centennial Middle
  • Moore Square Middle
  • Carver Elementary
  • Partnership Elementary
  • East Garner Elementary
  • East Wake Middle

You said these are the “major” calendar options. Are there more?

Yep. It wouldn’t be Wake County without a million options. Explore the WCPSS School Calendars page for information on the:

  •  Early College Calendars (Yes, plural. There are three.)
  • Barwell Road Elementary and Walnut Creek Elementary calendar
  • Fox Road Elementary Calendar
  • Carroll Middle, East Garner Middle, and East Millbrook Middle schools calendar

Have questions or feedback on WCPSS calendar options? Stop by the comments section!

Want to hop back to my basic overview of WCPSS schools? Click here.


Navigating Wake County Public Schools Part 1: The Basics

It’s no secret that Wake County has great public schools, and they play a major factor in many family’s decision to move to the area! But unfortunately due to high population growth, choosing a place to live based on the school you’d like your child to attend isn’t a simple process.

How do I find my WCPSS school?

If you’re considering purchasing or renting a specific home, you can look up current school options by visiting the WCPSS Address Lookup page.

If you have a specific school in mind and would like to focus your home search around that school, you can visit the same page, and select the map you’d like to see from the top toolbar. But, unfortunately friends, it probably isn’t that simple.

Just because you move within a school district doesn’t mean you child will attend that school. And just because your child attends a school this year does not guarantee they will be able to attend the same school next year.

Your school may be capped, or it’s zone may change from year to year to accommodate growth in the area.

What’s the deal with capped schools?

If a school is capped, it may not be accepting new students even if you purchase or rent a home within the school’s zone. Then again, just because a school is capped doesn’t mean that your child(ren) can’t attend. The school may still have a few seats open within certain grade levels.

The only certain way to know current availability for sure is to call and ask the school data manager. Keep in mind that he or she can really only guarantee current information and not future availablity.

Base Schools VS Application Schools

A base school is the school your child will automatically be assigned to unless it is capped at their grade level.

Application schools are alternative free public school options that you may apply to attend. I don’t recommend moving to an area solely to attend an application school as there’s no guarantee your child will be accepted into that school. There are several reasons why a family may want to consider an applying to these schools.

Traditional schools run on a common late August to mid June schedule with a long summer vacation and a standard Thanksgiving break, winter break, spring break, and major holidays off. If your base school is a year-round school and that isn’t your family’s preference, you may consider applying for your traditional school option. Check out the traditional school schedule by scrolling down to the “Traditional Calendar” heading on the WCPSS School Calendars page.

Year-round schools, as the name implies, are run all year. Students are placed on one of four “tracks” (schedules) and attend school in a ‘nine weeks on, three weeks off’ general routine. Year-round schools are only available at the elementary and middle school levels. If your base school is traditional and you’d like to try the year round schedule, consider applying to your year-round application school option. Check out the year round school tracks by scrolling down to the “Year Round Calendar” heading on the WCPSS School Calendars page.

Magnet schools are schools that offer an programs in addition to the standard curriculum. Wake County magnet school themes include gifted and talented programs, multicultural/bilingual studies, leadership, technology, engineering, the arts. To learn more visit the WCPSS Magnet Schools page.

Is your head spinning yet?

I know, it’s a lot to digest. But there’s good reason why thousands of families choose to send their children to Wake County Public Schools.

Want to hear more about calendar options? Click here.