Wake County Schools

Wake County parents voice concerns over student-assignment zones

Posted September 13, 2010
Updated September 14, 2010

Wake County Public School System
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— Wake County parents are getting their first look at a map considered a starting point for a community-based assignment system that will not consider the decade-old policy of seeking socioeconomic diversity in all schools.

The school board's Student Assignment Committee came up with the student-assignment zones, which are based on high schools and larger "regions."

In the Lochmere community of Cary, some parents say the zones aren’t giving them a community-based model. They say children in their community who have attended Athens Drive High School together for years would be split up into three different schools.

"That is what I am not happy about because it wouldn't feel like a community school anymore,” parent Gay Purvis said Monday.

The concern over the assignment zones is the latest rumblings of discontent toward the school board, which has dealt with protests from the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP and a number of community groups over its move away from the diversity policy.

Opponents fear the change will lead to re-segregation, high teacher turnover and poor students receiving a lower quality of education than their economically advantaged counterparts.

Five of the school board's nine members disagree and believe the move, still months away, will help improve test scores and give parents more chances to be involved in their students' education. The map of student-assignment zones is their first step toward a community-based assignment system.

"The concept is good, executing it I think is difficult,” said parent Mary Ann Meagher, who is in support of community-based schools.

School board co-chairwoman Debra Goldman said she has been getting calls and e-mails from parents concerned that the newly created student-assignment zones split up neighborhoods.

"That concern is a valid concern,” Goldman said. "I don't like to see any neighborhood split up."

However, Goldman said the map is the beginning of a long process. She said assignment lines are fluid and can be changed to flow in different directions.

"They (board members) are aware of errors and tweaks that have to be made in those lines,” Goldman said.

Public forums are planned for parents to voice their concerns on the student-assignment zones. Parents can also view the zones online on the Wake County Public School System website.

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  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Sep 15, 2010

    "Cary HS and Apex HS are showing at the #1 and #2 overcapacity (974 and 834 students over respectively) so adding in even more nodes doesn’t seem to be a viable option."

    They should add capacity to Cary HS and Apex HS. The new schools like Wakefield and Heritage were built to hold over 2000 students.

  • mpheels Sep 15, 2010

    "but then the regions would have to be figured out differently"

    And that's really the crux of it all. There is no way to fit every student into the school closest to their home, and likely no way to avoid splitting some subdivisions (especially the really big ones). It's the price we have to pay for choosing suburban sprawl.

    I suppose one option would be to assign all students to the building closest to their home and see where the over/under crowding falls, then designate all of the under crowded schools as magnets and hope enough people from each over crowded campus apply to a magnet.

    As for the backlash against magnets - the standard of education at all schools should be high, but some students show a high aptitude for a particular area pretty early on. Magnet schools can let students keep moving forward in the subject they excel in when they would otherwise stagnate at a traditional school.

  • swfsm Sep 15, 2010

    jmlovenc – sorry, no room at the inn. Cary HS and Apex HS are showing at the #1 and #2 overcapacity (974 and 834 students over respectively) so adding in even more nodes doesn’t seem to be a viable option. If the nodes being moved to Cary remained in Athens zone wouldn’t Oak Grove and Penny Rd still be their ES as those schools are in those nodes, and therefore, would be in the Athens zone? The solution for this particular area that would provide the most stability for the schools would be to have Athens and Cary be one zone, plus it would have addressed lack of YR options in Athens zone as proposed, but then the regions would have to be figured out differently.

  • jmlovenc Sep 14, 2010

    swiftcrkcomm - The distance to Athens is not the only concern, the elementary and middle - Penny Road/Oak Grove is 1 1/2 miles, Lufkin is 3 miles and not sure about traditional middle. Those schools are not in the Athens zone - Dillard Drive, which is where we are assigned now, is 5.4 miles and West Lake Middle is approx. 7 miles. The other side of Lochmere, is within 2 miles of Swift Creek, their elementary school, and approx. 4 miles to Dillard and 3 to East Cary, their tradtional and year round middle schools. I am NOT proposing that they stay at Athens, if there are seats at Cary High - - Bring them on!!

  • swfsm Sep 14, 2010

    jmlovenc: so it sounds like there may be mixed feelings among Lochmere residents. I suppose that is one of the challenges of a subdivision as large as Lochmere (over two miles end to end) - one part or another may have to drive a bit further or it splits up. Out of curiousity I keyed the location of the Lochmere pool (which is pretty much where the split occurs) and the four closest high schools into mapquest and the results were: Cary HS 5.07 miles, 9 min; Apex HS 5.27 miles, 8 minutes; Middle Creek 5.65 miles, 9 minutes; Athens 5.83 miles, 10 minutes. Wow, like someone else pointed out – Lochmere really is right in the middle. The one end is closer to Athens than the other end is to Cary. However, I can imagine that as one goes from the closer to farther end from Athens that there may be some differences of opinion in prioritizing distance and keeping the subdivision together.

  • NCTeacher Sep 14, 2010

    I completely agree with whoever said we should stop trying to put each child on a path to college. Some kids are just not ever going to be capable of that or happy in that path. And that is okay. It doesn't make them stupid or bad people.

    And many other communities assign students to schools based on where they live. The county I live and work in does just that. You go to the school you live in district for. If you want to go to another school out of your district, you can apply and if they have space, you can provide your own transportation and go there. If the school you are in district for is overcrowded, you still go to that school. Somehow it all works out in the end- most of the schools are at or over capacity. They are also pretty much racially and socioeconomically balanced. Really, it isn't as difficult as people make it out to be. There are always going to be parents unhappy with it no matter what they change.

  • LambeauSouth Sep 14, 2010

    And, wait a sec, wasn't there a survey that was generated in which the majority of parents liked the current system?

    Yeah, they believed what they were told, you know the Fairy Tale Tedesco preached.

    Now they see for what it truly is......

    The old bait and switch

    Old gimmick, same result

  • Lone Voice in the Wilderness Sep 14, 2010

    It's one thing to campaign; it's another to actually lead.

    But, hey, if you don't like what this board is doing, vote 'em out.

    And, wait a sec, wasn't there a survey that was generated in which the majority of parents liked the current system?

  • jmlovenc Sep 14, 2010

    swiftcrkcomm : What is counterintuitive and counterproductive is that families in the 1/2 of Lochmere closest to Kildaire and the Regency area are 7 miles from Athens when 3 high schools are closer!!

  • csmac99 Sep 14, 2010

    The Lochmere resident is concerned about kids leaving Athens Drive and being moved around, not about being sent there. That neighborhood is about equidistant from Athens Dr, Apex, Cary and Middle Creek. Tough call, but let's get the tough calls over with. We'll still need more schools, because more people will be coming.

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