School bells ring again for Triangle-area students

Posted August 27, 2012

— School is back in session.

About 1.5 million students across North Carolina headed back to the classroom Monday for the first day of traditional-calendar schools, including thousands in the Triangle.

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The Wake County Public School System, the state's largest school district, expected more than 151,000 students for the 2012-13 school year, including more than 12,000 new kindergartners, in 169 schools. More than 26,000 students on year-round schedules returned to school last month.

In Durham County, school administrators were anticipating about 32,000 students this year. Johnston County schools reported 32,132, and Chatham County Schools reported 7,899 students on the first day and expect that enrollment will reach as many as 8,100 students this year. 

The new year brings with it a new set of curriculum standards called Common Core, which has been adopted in more than 40 states. The aim is to get students to master key concepts and understand how to apply them to real-life situations.

The school year also comes on the heels of a statewide graduation rate that topped 80 percent for the first time.

Wake County school Superintendent Tony Tata said he hopes to continue the improvements that schools made – the district posted gains in proficiency at every grade level and in all but one subject tested.

"We had a good year last year, and so we think we know there a lot of things that have been working," Tata said. "We're analyzing our best practices. We've been doing that through the summer and trying to expand on those things that are truly working for schools."

Continued improvements will come through investments including a $5 million cash infusion for schools to update their technology, such as tablet computers and iPads, he said.

The school system, however, has other challenges outside the classroom.

With about 3,000 to 6,000 new students each year, how to best assign them to schools is still being worked out.

Parents participated for the first time for this school year in process in which they ranked their school choices. But the school board directed school officials to revise the process for the 2013-14 school year, with socio-economic diversity also being factored into the assignment process.

Tata said that the choice-driven plan worked for most families, and he promised that changes to it would be improvements.

"We've got 95 percent of parents exactly where they asked to be and where they want to be," he said. "As we add new students, we’re going to develop a new plan."

Transportation is another challenge, as parents reported long bus rides for their children Monday morning and students being dropped off at wrong sites Monday afternoon.

With 908 buses – 25 fewer than last year to help save money – on the roads, the district says it is working out issues with the routes.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • HereswhatIthink Aug 28, 2012

    My child goes to a charter school - love it! I drive him to school and pick him up everyday. No buses for us! I do wish school wouldn't start quite so early. 9 a.m. would be nice. Less morning rush, avoid traffic, more sleep for children. Already looking forward to summer vacation and glad I don't live in Wake County!

  • Screw WrAl Aug 27, 2012

    There is 3 to a seat on every bus. Yes, that is normal. If there are medical bills to ever pay you, the parent, are going to pay them. End of story.

  • injameswetrust2003 Aug 27, 2012

    "they are your responsibility"- znuff

    Wrong- they are the school's responsibility until they arrive home safely. Parents should be notified when the bus will be an hour late.

  • mcraineycrazies Aug 27, 2012

    this happend to my daughter and we live right over the wake county line in johnston county, my middle school daughter was 35 minutes late getting in,, and my elementary daughter was told to go on another bus that was overcrowded, and she got home over an hour later, we were all stressing, and not one person called us from the school, its sad they went in the subdivison across the street from us while we all stood on the other corner, and pulled out of there and didnt show up with our children for 30 minutes later??? makes no sense, i was told by each of my kids that there were 3 to a seat, and they all ride diffrent buses??? is this safe?? what happens if one is in an accident,, who is going to pay for medical bills because they choose to do this?

  • geosol Aug 27, 2012

    We need to CUT TAXES EVEN MORE!!! There are too many school buses out there and too many schools!! There are some classes with as few as 30 students to one teacher. How is this helping me spend less money on taxes?? I don't have any kids in school so i don't care about kids getting a public school education if i have to pay for it. Send your kids to private schools and quit spending MY TAX DOLLARS!!!!

  • Screw WrAl Aug 27, 2012

    "having busses to get them to and from would be nice too." "I am fuming!!" "Bus was 2+ hours getting home" blah, blah, blah.

    What is it with you parents, you are the ones who decided to have kids, they are your responsibility. In the time you show up here to complain you could pick them and ask them how their day went. Wow, what an idea.

  • julianne Aug 27, 2012

    School is a great idea, but having busses to get them to and from would be nice too. It's not like we're a new school system. They could have planned. Some kids at Laurel Park Elementary didn't even have a bus to get on until 1:45 after school was out.

  • injameswetrust2003 Aug 27, 2012

    I picked my child up from school 90 minutes after dismissal and the bus still had not arrived. I am fuming!! Tata do something!

  • snuffy Aug 27, 2012

    No bus this morning for our new middle school student!!! Bus was 2+ hours getting home this afternoon. Bus driver claimed he came by this morning but we were at our stop 15 minutes (6:07AM!!!) before scheduled pickup time. For the afternoon debacle - the bus driver claims the school held the bus for an hour. School says that didn't happen. We have been calling Enloe Transportation since 7:00 this morning and we are unable to leave a message since the mailbox is full. How can the school board and administration possibly think these long bus rides are conducive to a good education. Yes - you can make the curriculum just as challenging as you want but making kids ride 2 hours on a bus each way is keeping them from doing their homework and getting much needed rest. Both are needed for success in school. Shame on you Wake County Schools.

  • jbtilley Aug 27, 2012

    Reading some of these comments and in my own experience it seems like they've significantly reduced the quantity of buses. Our kid was taken off the bus route and the bus stop for our neighborhood was taken off of their map. Message after message, still no answers.

    I though starting elementary kids off at 9:00AM and getting them home after dark (in the winter months) so they could share buses was supposed to alleviate busing problems. Yet here we are with late, or even NO bus.