Many empty seats at first Wake County schools forum
Posted January 23, 2014
Updated January 24, 2014
Raleigh, N.C. — Wake County Public Schools Superintendent Jim Merrill was prepared to listen, but for the first of the district’s “direct line” forums Thursday night, he had a direct line to one parent - and a lot of empty seats.
“This is new to us, we are not used to this,” said Brian Mountcastle, the lone parent at Thursday’s meeting.
School employees, parents and the public are invited to five forums around the county to voice their ideas and concerns about the district.
Some of those thoughts may end up as part of a new strategic plan for the school system.
“I may use those to help guide work with my leadership group,” Merrill said.
Mountcastle may have been the only parent at East Wake High School for the first “direct line” meeting, but it’s not due to a lack of issues in eastern Wake County. A work group was formed last year after a curriculum audit found inconsistent teacher expectations and unevenly distributed resources in area schools serving needy students.
“Get our test scores for our students up,” Mountcastle said. “We need to get our teacher enthusiasm back up.”
Mountcastle has an idea for why he was the only attendee.
“We have not had this kind of outreach historically,” he said. “Maybe the local community does not expect much.”
District leaders vowed to not give up on its community outreach.
“If we, as an administration demonstrate that it matters, they will come,” said Stella Shelton, the district’s interim chief of communications.
Broughton High School
Panther Creek High School
Southeast Raleigh High School
Wakefield High School
Speakers may begin signing up on-site at 4 p.m. each day in the lobby of the school auditorium. Each speaker is allotted three minutes and one appearance at the direct line events. School employees speak from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Parents and the public speak from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.