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Parents Rally to Keep Wake Magnet Schools

Posted June 3, 2007
Updated June 4, 2007

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— More than two dozen parents and children rallied outside of Olds Elementary School Monday morning to voice their displeasure over a plan to eliminate the magnet status of four local elementary schools.

Chanting "Mend it, don't end it," the group said the school board rushed the decision 10 days ago when they recommended removing the magnet status of Root, Wake Forest, Lincoln Heights and Olds elementary schools.

Parents like Rod Hughes-Oliver said they believe the magnet schools are important, because they only offer certain specialized programs not available at other schools.

“The main point here is that we had no opportunity to state our case to the school board or anyone else. Everything happened very quickly and kind of behind closed doors,” Hughes-Oliver said. “It takes away a very large choice as far as we’re concerned.”

School board member Susan Parry said the decision was a part of a long evaluation process, and it came down to two things. The first reason was the board's goal to keep schools "healthy."

Magnet schools were designed to bring in students from other areas to prevent high concentrations of poverty. The board believes the schools would be diverse without the magnet status.

"This isn't a question of eliminating choice. It's just our effort to make sure that we're doing precisely what we intend to do with this program," Parry said.

The second reason involves funds.

“The program costs money. It costs extra money in each school where we conduct a magnet program,” Parry said. “And so, as you can imagine, with 147 schools and 130,000 kids to educate and a very, very tight budget, it’s important that all of our resources are focused so that they’re doing exactly what they’re intended to do.”

School board members didn't have an exact dollar amount on how much the school system could save by taking away the magnet status of these schools. But they did say it would be the equivalent of cutting 12-1/2 staff positions.

The school board could take a final vote on the magnet schools at a Tuesday meeting, but parents said they hope to delay any decision.

"It's a huge sense of uncertainty right now. That makes it uncomfortable. We'd like to have some answers. Why did this happen? Why now? Why this school? How much money is involved? We don't really know anything," parent Arati Bechtel said.

Magnet programs at middle and high schools could be affected, too.

On Tuesday, Wake school board members will discuss the need for magnet programs at four middle schools and two high schools. They are East Garner, Daniels, Zebulon and East Millbrook middle schools and Broughton and Garner high schools.


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  • momofthreeinFV Jun 4, 2007

    I see that WRAL is not posting my last one because someone reported me for abuse, but I said nothing wrong, nor did I use any profanity or make any degrading, racist crude remarks.

    NCTeacher-it is a shame that any teacher has to buy supplies for his or her classroom.

  • wolfpack Jun 4, 2007

    I am concerned with the, "School board member Susan Parry said the decision was a part of a long evaluation process, and it came down to two things....to keep schools "healthy. How is "healthy" defined by the BOE? We have heard quite often the Free Lunch Program percentage of each school is the determining factor. Wouldn't the solution to liquidate the population simply just cover the problem that is more inherent in some school communities? Making the identification and resolution harder to identify and "sweep under the rug" a true need to be dealt with? Just who loses?

    Some of us commend the BOE efforts to use ex/internal resources to analyze how to best use our tax dollars to educate our children. But, how are the current methods used would result in a high probability of our children want to stay in this area and send their children to WCPSS? We need to keep it simple. Is this shuffling children, not creating but taking away Magnet status, etc a solution or a knee-jerk?

  • poohperson Jun 4, 2007


    Less because they would not have all the extra fancy classes. YR Magnet Schools should also have there status changed and the kids should have to go back to their base school if it is year round too. This will help the bussing issue and will spread our numbers more evenly. All the Westlake parents would be livid when they have to send their kids to Fuquay, or Willow Springs El. Turn the magnet schools back into base schools, if people want to stay and their is room, make them provide their own transportation.

  • NCTeacher Jun 4, 2007

    There will never be enough money in the school system to cover all the supplies teachers go through on a daily basis. I bet I had 20 boxes of donated Kleenex at the beginning of the year and we ran out before Christmas. And that was even with them only allowed to use one at a time. I have been buying my own Clorox wipes since the beginning of school since we are required to wipe our desks down with them daily, but the school doesn't provide them. Not to mention the other supplies I have bought myself. If parents would make sure their child gets to school everyday with paper and pencil, I bet my "supply budget" would go down by at least half.

    Momofthree- you are correct. Everybody knows it is a problem, but what is the solution? If they would re-direct all the money that the spend on bussing and "administrative costs", I think it would cut the gap in alot of schools.

  • momofthreeinFV Jun 4, 2007

    kicktheirscoveryours-I am a parent with children in the magnet program and every week we are buying tons of supplies for those teachers. So if they cut the magnet program all together, lets see how many supplies we are still buying every week. My guess is, it will be the same! By now we should all know there is never enough money and no one is happy about it, nor is anyone coming up with the right solution for the problems.

  • poohperson Jun 4, 2007


    Since you do not have a kid in the system, it all about money to you. To the rest of us,it is how do we offer the best education that people like you will afford us. I think the $ from the magnet schools could do a greater service to all, if it were spread amoung the schools. I can not tell you how many supplies I have dontated in the mere two years my child has been in school. I also know darn well there are plenty out there that can afford to help, but do not.

  • superman Jun 4, 2007

    Of course folks it is all about the money-- so when are you able to do anything you want without having to consider the cost. Changing 3 magnet schools and cutting out about 36 teachers will reduce the budget by l l/2 million dollars. I guess you didnt read or cant read that the CC cut the schools reguest for funding. Maybe you didnt read that the bond issue a couple years ago failed too and the last one only passed by a small percentage. So if it isnt about the money-- what suggestion do you have to support the schools and give them the money. Dont know anyone or any business that doesnt have to consider the cost of things. YES IT IS ALL ABOUT THE MONEY-- dont think many people have spoken up and said increase the taxes -- I wanna pay more so the schools can benefit. Get real--and grow up-- it is always about the money.

  • pubcitizen Jun 4, 2007

    The larger issue is that great programs like these magnets--that are worth far more than the small amount of extra money they cost--in order to finance growth elsewhere in the county. Instead, developers should have to pay impact fees--as they do in most other states--that pay for the true costs of that development in terms of building schools and sewer lines. Transfer taxes would also help to make up the deficit created by rampant new development. Otherwise our schools will become worse and worse and ....

  • speedy Jun 4, 2007

    what I mean is: Are they spending a NC bus dollar chasing a Federal 75 cents?

  • poohperson Jun 4, 2007

    They can not spend the federal money on busing. The money has to go directly to the title I program. Like I sad itt paid for three literacy teachers at my son's school, plus their materials. It is funny because my son's teacher is always including in her notes that she needs this or that for the classroom, but when I ask the title I teachers if anything is needed the answer is no. It is because it is all paid for by the Federal Gov't. If they bussed, it would be so they could offer the program at more schools (perhaps), but that money is straight out of the school districts budget, not the federal money. So the real question is do the benefits (having the resources to run the program, increased reading skills, etc) outweigh the costs of busing. If you look at it this way I feel certain it is worth it. My son is acutally reading a book level above what he has to right now. That is a blessing from god, and the results from some hard working, dedicated teachers, and ALL federally funded.