Local News

Wake Schools Get Creative to Ease Overcrowding

Posted June 9, 2007

— Classes are over, but the Wake County school system is quickly getting ready for next year.

With an estimated 8,000 new students coming in, they're getting creative to find more space. One new idea is separate ninth grade centers for high schools.

In a matter of months, an old Winn Dixie in Wake Forest has transformed into a ninth grade center for the 600 incoming freshmen at Wakefield High. Molly Joyce is one of them.

“I’m kind of nervous, but I’m more excited,” she said.

It's exciting that freshmen will get their own turf several miles from the main high school, she said.

Wakefield High School is bursting at the seams, and the ninth grade center will help alleviate overcrowding until Heritage High opens in 2009.

The new ninth grade center has 27 classrooms, three science labs, a PE room and a library. It costs $4.7 million for a 10 year lease and $6.5 million for the renovation.

Millbrook, Cary, Wake Forest, Rolesville and Garner high schools are also using ninth grade centers to ease overcrowding, but Wakefield's project is the most unique.

“It’s a real creative thing, because you’re taking an existing building – something that was just a derelict building in the community of Wake Forest,” said Jeff Young, with Wake County schools facilities.

Molly’s mother, Kate Joyce, is optimistic about the opportunity and hopeful that it's a good one.

“That’s my continuous concern is that nothing from an educational standpoint is lost by this,” Joyce said.

Many high schools already separate their freshmen to help them transition. The school system said a crowding solution can be an educational one, too.

Construction on Wakefield's ninth grade center should be complete by July 5. School starts in late August.


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  • WhyWhyWhy Jun 11, 2007

    Common sense / Wake County Public School System = oxymoron

  • chargernut69 Jun 11, 2007

    ...more Band Aids to fix the problem of poor planning.... when are they going to build "real" schools, and stop the Year-Round plan fiasco?...

    Build schools, stop issuing more building permits until we can get caught up! Common sense!

  • Educator Jun 11, 2007

    Super mom- before you start talking about the area where the Wake Forest Rolesville High Freshman will go to school, go out there and see for yourself. I teach their and I have never seen people pushing drugs. Maybe I haven't seen what you saw if you did see anything, but the school is gated and is very safe. Please speak from experience and not what parents are pushing you to beleive. It's a problem yes (overcrowding), but are we to do? Just go with the flow and deal with it. Go into it with a positive attitude. It's parents like you with negative attitudes that transfer those to thier children. Think before you speak.

  • A_Patriot Jun 10, 2007

    I remember reading (possibly on WRAL) about a WCPSS-NCSU project that was mapping out Wake County in such a way as to predict future residential growth patterns.

    Whatever happened with that? It would seem that such an approach would yield clues on where schools could/should be built and when...

  • bc3278 Jun 10, 2007

    Why not build the new schools larger. Yes it would cost more initially,but would allow for the growth in these areas. Look at Wakefield, they just completed year 6/7 already very overcrowded. If it had been built with growth in mind, the incoming Freshman can feel part of the school rather than going to a former supermarket.

  • supermom2 Jun 10, 2007

    So now Sophmores are the new freshmen. If they keep the 9th graders seperate to ease their transition into high school, then when they enter regular high school in 10th grade (otherwise now known as freshmen) but they too will have to be kept seperate as well so that they will have to transition into normal life as a high school student. Further more, yes htey need schools now for the overcrowding the schools are going through, and developers have caused, but this being the case as one has mentioned...then why did they sign a 10 year lease agreement and not just2-3 yr. agreement to comver the time needed to finish Heritage High. And now, the Wke Forest-Rollesville freshman location. Those drug pushers in that section of Wake Forest are looking forward to these teens coming there. There will be more drug addicted teens entering 10th grade than ever before, and WF-R will have one of if not the highest number of teens addicted and using drugs. Really smart school board.

  • djofraleigh Jun 10, 2007

    >It costs $4.7 million for a 10 year lease and $6.5 million for the renovation.... taking an existing building – something that was just a derelict building in the community of Wake Forest,”<

    That's 38,000/month in rent & for 10 years, 93K/mo for everything. That's expensive, but how else can you move in fast?

    How much would the property cost to buy?

    What would the long term savings be to buy, then re-sale?

    The bankers, builders and realtors that run Wake County benefit from the growth, but not me, me and my increasing taxes.

    Chatham & maybe Moore Counties are exercising good governance.

    They are taking control of growth, instead of growth taking contol of them, as it has in Wake County.

    Clean drinking water is the Achilles heel for Wake County.

    Who would have ever imagined ten years ago that churches and school would be taking over the strip malls?

  • superman Jun 10, 2007

    I also think the County Commissioners have to approve the lease so it is just not up to the BOE to decide. The bond issue should have been passed a couple years ago that was defeated and things wouldnt be as bad as they are now. I dont have kids but those of you that do, should e-mail the county commissioners and tell them you support a tax increase to build and pay for schools. If you want schools -- you have to pay. I dont work for wake county either-- but I am tired of hearing people complain about the schools when they dont want to pay for them. You complain about the schools but dont want to pay more taxes-- sorry but you cant have it both ways.

  • superman Jun 10, 2007

    I guess some people have difficulty reading-- the new school that is being built is not available. They have to find places and find them now. Where u think the kids going to school? The school spends 3 million a day -- that is 60 million a MONTH. I guess the kids can just stay home until the new schools are built and they have room for them. 8,000 new students in the fall-- that would be about 10 new schools that need to open with 800 in each school just to meet the demand. You wanna count the money in the bank-- or you want the kids in school. It takes about 3 (three) yes about 3 years to build a a new school. Buildings also have to be available for rent and they need to be in a location where a school would be needed.

  • SeaDog Jun 10, 2007

    Quote (nothingnew): "Why dont they use the old Winn Dixie in Apex to do the same thing. Kids cross 64 to get to Fast Food there and the Freshman would not have to cross 64, but of course fresh cant leave campus. They could construct a cross walk over 64 for the kids and teachers. If they did that then parking in the old Winn Dixie would not be a problem them. Not sure the reasons why they have not done this already to expand the school."

    I was going to suggest the same. Excellent idea. I cringe every time I see students crossing Hwy64.