Local News

Thousands Of Parents Check Out Latest Wake School Shuffle Plan

Posted January 21, 2004

— Wake County school officials say thousands of parents have called with questions Wednesday about the school system's largest student reassignment plan to date.

Wake County Schools released its 2004-05 reassignment proposal at 5 a.m. The plan, and school-by-school information, is

available online

.

Officials said they received 480,000 requests for details of the student assignment proposal at their customer service center. Officials also said they have heard nearly 800 calls, with the average call being 2.5 times longer than normal.

While some parents called with questions about navigating the Wake School's Web site, Dr. Ramey Beavers of Wake County Schools said the process has been smooth since the plan went online Wednesday morning.

"To the public, we hope it says, 'we heard, we listened, we incorporated and we developed a plan outlining what we think is best for the school district, for the parents and certainly what it best for the students,'" he said.

Seventy-six schools and 8,388 students are part of the massive reassignment plan. It affects people living in the northeastern, eastern and western portions of Wake County. The number is less than 10 percent of the county's total student population.

The reason for the school system's largest ever student shuffle is to fill seven new schools, relieve overcrowding, maintain diversity and to accommodate the more than 4,000 new students who are estimated to enter the school system next year.

The plan calls for moving more than 1,000 year-round students due to transportation changes.

One part of the proposed re-assignment plan would move 500 students out of Heritage to a new school and replace them with 500 from other schools. Christy Henley, who said her son is being reassigned from Heritage Elementary School in Wake Forest to Jones Dairy Elementary, said it is just tough for kids to split from their friends.

"I've got one who's almost in the fifth grade. He's been with these kids his whole life," she said.

Beavers said he does not expect the number of students in the proposal to change much.

"I think the number will stay pretty close to what it is. I don't anticipate it going up," he said.

This year, administrators listened to parents concerns at a series of public forums before putting a proposal on the table. As a result, they said 77 percent of students have been reassigned to a school closer to their homes.

The school system also expects about 2,000 students to be grandfathered. That means students in certain grades can remain at their existing schools if parents provide transportation. Those students include rising fourth-, fifth-, seventh-, eighth-, 10th- 11th- and 12th-graders being reassigned to an existing school. Also, rising fifth-, eighth, 11th- and 12th-graders being reassigned to a new school.

Cynthia Matson heads up the grassroots group Assignment by Choice. The group is keeping an eye on Wake County's reassignment plan and hopes to help parents deal with the changes.

"It's a proposal. They'll make adjustments They always do," Matson said.

There will be a two-week public comment period over the proposal. Parents can offer feedback online or by calling the Wake Growth Management hotline at (919) 501-7998.

Parents who do not have access to a computer can view a list at their child's school.

Parents who have questions about navigating the online information can call (919) 850-1600.

A revised plan will be presented to the school board in March.

and

Kelcey Carlson

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