Local News

Change is the Only Constant for Parents Fighting School Reassignment

Posted January 13, 1999

— Explosive growth in the Triangle has created quite a quandary for parents. In order to ease overcrowded schools, Wake County has no choice but to reassign students. However, parents do not agree with that decision.

There were three public hearings Thursday evening at three separate locations to make sure the school board could listen to everyone who wanted to speak without being there all night.

At Leesville High School, parents were very vocal about keeping their children in both Leesville High and Leesville Elementary schools, despite extreme overcrowding. This is what several parents said at the meeting:

"You're changing our community and you haven't given us any reasonable time to manage that, and your response to that is, 'Write me a document.' Excuse me, you said we had the right to speak, you should give us that right."

"In the next school year, you will put our children on the roads an additional 4000-plus miles. Common sense tells us that it is inevitable there will be even more victims due to this increased travel of the redistricted children."

"Take those neighborhoods - cap them, I don't know what the word is - but put them in a place where they will not be moved."

Wake County Schoolswill review the videos made of each public hearing and see if they can honor some of the parents request. It will take a few weeks for the process to take place.

Parents can still apply for magnet schools and year-round schools. The applications are due in mid-February.

Wake County's school system is not the only one to shuffle students.Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools,Cumberland County Schools, and schools inWilsonhave also rearranged students to ease overcrowding.

As the area continues to grow, so does the problem. As one Johnston County family learned, you can keep moving, but the growth always finds you.

On the east side of Clayton, off of Highway 42, what was once farmland is now prime land, and the growth just keeps on coming. It's hardly the solitude the Maness family has sought for so long.

"We wanted to get away from the growth of the Raleigh area. We thought we were getting far enough out," Randy Maness says.

Maness is building a playground for his kids and a homestead for his family.

He and his family moved from Chapel Hill, Chatham County, and Raleigh, fleeing crowded roads and packed schools. They thought Johnston County had a handle on space. But the new middle school up the road from their home has a village of portables right behind it.

"That's telling me that, number one, they didn't prepare for the population, and the schools aren't going to accommodate the growth. And number two, that they're going to have to build more schools."

Maness sympathizes with Wake County parents intent on stopping school reassignment. He realizes reassignment could be in Johnston County's future, and in the cards for his kids.

"I would not want my children to have to go through some of the upheaval of having to leave a particular school and go to another school," Maness says.

However, after living in and leaving three North Carolina counties in a search for stability and open space, one thing is clear.

"I would say the growth is going to catch you wherever you go," Maness says.

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