Local News

Wake Cuts 4 Magnet School Programs

Posted August 7, 2007
Updated August 8, 2007

— The Wake County school board decided to end magnet programs at four elementary schools, despite pressure from parents to save the programs.

The Board of Education voted Tuesday night to begin phasing out the magnet programs at Root, Olds, Lincoln Heights and Wake Forest elementary schools. The programs will be completely eliminated by 2010.

The school board's vote was split, with five board members voting to end the programs and four voting to continue them.

District administrators said the schools no longer need the specialized programs, which are designed to lure suburban families to under-enrolled schools that have high poverty rates among students. Other schools have higher student poverty rates and need the money devoted to personnel and materials used in magnet programs, administrators said.

"It's just a tremendous destruction to the excellent education system that Wake County is offering to take away the Olds program," parent Norma Prosser told school board members earlier Tuesday.

"We had no prior knowledge the evaluation process was taking place," said parent Tracy Nelson, a leader of Concerned Parents of Lincoln Heights.

The Lincoln Heights group also pleaded its case Monday night to two school board members, a state representative and a pair of Holly Springs Town Council members.

Nelson has two sons at Lincoln Heights, one of whom has language delays and anxiety issues. She praised the school's special needs program.

"The program's small class size really helps him as far as understanding what the teacher is saying," she said. "It means so much to my boys because they have not just survived in elementary school, they're thriving."

School board member Lori Millberg spoke in favor of keeping the four magnet programs, saying they offer educational options to families in outlying sections of Wake County.

Millberg also decried "special treatment" being given to Brooks Elementary and Douglas Elementary. The schools have two of the lowest student poverty rates in the district, but their magnet programs aren't being threatened, she said.

Magnet programs at middle schools and high schools also wouldn't be affected.

School board member Carol Parker said the magnet decision is difficult. A vote had been scheduled for two months ago, but parents demanded to be heard on the issue, and the board delayed.

"Our real purpose of doing de-magnetization is to try to allocate our resources where they're best-needed and because we're in a finite resource world," she said.


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  • poohperson2000 Aug 8, 2007

    grenlyn1- I see your point and I agree that education needs to take a step up, but not for just those that win a lottery to attend a magnent school. I feel my son attends a wonderful school, and it just a run of the mill elementary school. If the schools perform poor enough for enough years in a row, parents must be offered an alternative school as mandated by no child left behind. If schools can not perform, other options will be given, we do not need magnents to this anymore.

  • grenlyn1 Aug 8, 2007

    Poohperson, about 15 years ago Lincoln Heights was on the dockette for redistricting into other local school systems because of a 38% failure rate. The parents and school faught it, knowing that the children will fall through the cracks eventually, and they won. The end result was improving the quality of education within this one school. Yes, it mean't becoming a magnet school that provided optimal services to all children attending this school. It has come a long way from those days. My fear is if the DOE keeps denying children the tools they need to achieve academic success, they will be in the same boat as before. It's a step back. NC needs to move forward and stop moving backwards when it comes to educating our children.

  • Brick Tamland Aug 8, 2007

    "It is a sad day - we have seen a program that was teaching and actually bringing education to the children turn into loss for those children in that now they are back on the substandard school systems curricular.

    Sorry, but if you want a quality education, it's time to look outside of Wake County or home schooling. The public school system with it's lack of an educational plan is no longer an option."

    They didn't have magnet schools when I was in school and I did fine. These schools are not needed. Just teach the basics. If you want your child to learn something different, maybe you should put them in a private school. And if Wake County schools are so bad, then why are they overcrowded and more and more people want to move here? You can always move to Durham.

  • onpointe Aug 8, 2007

    The children of illegal immigrants have just begun to have an impact on Wake County Schools. Many of the illegal people here have come in the last 5 years or so. Most of their children aren't of school age yet. Just wait.

  • Comments Aug 8, 2007

    Good. Now shut down the rest of the government schools, issue educational vouchers to parents, and let them decide which school is best. Free market competition will result in better education and fewer government run schools. Perhaps I will also see a bite taken out of the 2700+ dollars that Wake County confiscated from me for schools and "educatin". Just pathetic.

  • whatelseisnew Aug 8, 2007

    All the kids in the Wake County School system have a equal educational opportunity. Unfortunately it is not a good opportunity. This stuff you are reading about too many poor kids going to a given school and just another excuse that the school board and school system drags out as reason for their poor performance. Money is always another one. the real problem with the money is they are getting too much.

  • poohperson Aug 8, 2007

    Magnet schools are only allocating these special programs to certain kids. I am not 40, but I graduated with kids I went to Kidgergarten with (in CA), and we went to the nearest school. The schools got bigger as you got older and therefore more diverse, but I need not say CA has a more diverse population to begin with. Another difference is my city was one school district, county run schools were much worse off than I was, because we lived in a city that had a large middle to upper class population. I am grateful I had the advantages I had, but I do not think those who live in poorer areas should receive a lesser education than those in the better areas. Those kids in those poorer areas need to have equal opportunities.

  • TheAdmiral Aug 8, 2007

    It is a sad day - we have seen a program that was teaching and actually bringing education to the children turn into loss for those children in that now they are back on the substandard school systems curricular.

    Sorry, but if you want a quality education, it's time to look outside of Wake County or home schooling. The public school system with it's lack of an educational plan is no longer an option.

    --- American Pie by Don Mclaine playing in the background -

    Bye, Bye American Ed
    Went to the school board
    now being smart is dead.....

  • Brick Tamland Aug 8, 2007

    Good. There is nothing wrong with traditional schools. The Nature Boy wants all schools to be year round, then those whiny parents can shut up about it being unfair. Whoooo! Just keep quiet and worry about the quality of your kid's education, not when they are in school.

  • amyj Aug 8, 2007

    Anyone over 40 like me..answer this...What was so wrong with the way schools were when we went there? Why has it changed so much and become so political? Maybe its just the "big city", out here in the county (Harnett)things are simple, generally you go to the closest school to your house. We moved around alot when I was in school, I went to 13 different schools in 12 years( all in NC). It made me as an adult very adapable to change and make friends easy. However, I have 3 kids (23, 20, 15)I made sure my kids went to the same school all the way through. I don't remember any friends I had before 9th grade. My kids still hang out with the same kids they went to kindergarten with. I wish I had had that.