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370 Students Removed From Wake Reassignment Plan

Posted January 28, 2008
Updated January 29, 2008

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— The Wake County Board of Education removed about 370 elementary students from its latest reassignment plan Monday, leaving 6,454 slated to change schools next school year.

Among those are 127 students from Davis Drive Elementary School and students in three of 13 neighborhood districts that had been slated for Adams Elementary School. Those from Davis Drive, however, are expected to be moved within three years when a new school opens in western Wake County. Those who will stay at Adams were closest to the school. (See a list of changes made Monday.)

The school board is expected to vote on a final plan Feb. 5.

Board members said they took into account input from parents at three public hearings since the draft plan was announced in early December.

"We saw reasons to agree with some of what we heard from the public and other reasons not to," said Chuck Dulaney, assistant superintendent for growth and planning for the Wake County Public School System.

Board members have said the changes are necessary to fill three new schools – Laurel Park, Mills Park and Sycamore Creek – and to keep up with growth and balance economic levels in each school.

While the changes were seen as a victory for some parents who opposed the original plan, others said they were disappointed by the school board's changes.

"We feel like they did listen, but we walked away (from the public hearing) feeling like the board members already had their minds made up," said Jennifer Etkin, who along with her neighbors fought to keep their 55 children assigned to Brooks Elementary School.

The group proposed splitting a node from Durant Road Elementary to help balance diversity and to keep their children at Brooks. The school board decided to move them to Lynn Road Elementary, however.

Under the initial reassignment plan, about 2,700 children would have moved to the new schools. That plan also sought to fill seats at the schools that were losing students to the new schools. School officials said that in the process, about 3,800 students would have transferred to schools closer to their homes.

Michelle Witherspoon said she opted to send her child to a charter school after hearing the busing that the reassignment plans would entail.

"Here we are right next door to Durant year-round and Wildwood Forest, and they want to bus all the way down Capital with all that traffic," Witherspoon said.

The Coalition of Concerned Citizens for African-American Children was out in support of the reassignment plans on Monday. The changes would "promote academic achievement for all children," a release from CCCAAC read.

Supporters argue that reassignment is a must for a system growing as fast as Wake County. It became the largest in the state in 2007 and expects to grow by 6,000 to approximately 140,000 students next year.

Reassignment is necessary to balance diversity across the county and keep some schools from falling behind, said WCPSS Superintendent Del Burns.

"Then, we'd fall into a situation where you have the 'have' and the 'have-not' schools," Burns said. "That does not help a community. It does not help kids, and it's not something I want to be a part of."

System administrators say they aim to create "healthy schools," where less than 40 percent of students are from low-income families. Officials reckon a school's poverty rate based on the percentage of students receiving free or reduced-price lunches.

Administrators also judge a school's diversity on its end-of-grade exam scores and the number of students in special education or with limited proficiency in English.

57 Comments

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  • JennyT Jan 30, 2008

    Why can't we go back to neighborhood schools and the magnet schools? That was how they attracted "higher socio-economic status" students to the lower areas. And the magnet schools got more money...

  • wakecountyvoter Jan 29, 2008

    Here is a novel idea. Leave all the students in their current schools. DO NOT build any new schools. This saves tax dollars and eliminates reassignments. If there is over crowding in some schools – who cares!!! The parents who are upset about reassignments will be happy because their kids are in the same school every year. The traditionalists will be happy because their kids will be in the “traditional” schools (let’s not expose them to change because they will always live in a traditional world). The taxpayers will be happy because there will be no tax increases to buy property and build new schools. The quality of education should not be an issue because no one seems to care about that as long as students have the summer off and are at the same school.

  • thewayitis Jan 29, 2008

    I'd like to know what percentage of kids in the Wake County Publics schools receive free and reduced lunches? If the goal is 40 percent or less per school, what is the true percentage of these kids we are talking about at each school? 20, 30 or close to 40? I sure am hoping that 40% of PS kids don't receive free and reduced lunch, because that would simply be a farce, and somebody is cheating somewhere. Does anybody actually verify that all of these kids truly qualify. Somehow I doubt it....If close to 40 percent of all kids are on F&R lunch, then we are really dealing with a much bigger problem, aren't we?

  • unc83 Jan 29, 2008

    Tax Man,

    You have got it all wrong!!!! Since this is a PUBLIC school system, everyone should have to burden the discomfort of busing, NOT JUST THE POOR!!!!!!! Unless you want to go to separate but (un)equal!!

  • Tax Man Jan 28, 2008

    The point of my story is simple - the WCPSS is too large - city based schools are much better and local people run them. All voters vote for all of the city school board. If you don't like it you move to another city - maybe from Raleigh to Cary. Parents have more say and there is much more stability in smaller city based school districts.

  • VT1994Hokie Jan 28, 2008

    The Superintendent and the BOE are in a situation that is highly political. They are numerous parents in each community that have great influence. This happens in every community throughtout.

    I will bet that the wheel be be greased a little for some, and some will have to be moved across from the near neighbood.

  • whatelseisnew Jan 28, 2008

    This board is consistent in wanting to put their racist policies above the good of the student population. Get your children out if you can.

  • Tax Man Jan 28, 2008

    "System administrators say they aim to create "healthy schools," where less than 40 percent of students are from low-income families. Officials reckon a school's poverty rate based on the percentage of students receiving free or reduced-price lunches."

    This is fine, but move THESE kids, not the kids who are already in schools that meet this criteria - if a school is too top heavy with welfare families, it needs to change - move these kids into the middle class schools, but leave the middle/upper class kids where they are. It is not the fault of the people who work for a living and support their families and pay the taxes that some people are less fortunate. So help the less fortunate by placing them in better schools - but do not punish those who are successful by taking their kids and making them ride buses all over the county. Stop building schools in the parts of town that have high poverty levels - use them for warehouses or prisons! Or office space for the school board.

  • VT1994Hokie Jan 28, 2008

    As a retired teacher, coach and administrator, I can't see moving children that live within walking distance to a school to be sent to another across town. These parents bought a home in a certain location in many cases to be close to their jobs and place their kids in a good school.

    If there are some poor schools; then improve them. How much money are they spending on transportaion? Wake County is grwoing so rapidly that they can't keep up with growth. Maybe they should make more schools year-round. Some parents love it---while others hate it. Another court case in progress. I'm glad that I don't have to pay taxes in Wake.

  • Garnerwolf1 Jan 28, 2008

    Experiment? My kids have been in year-round for 8 years and we love it. I agree it's not for everyone, but those that put down the mere concept of it; I have to believe have never tried it and thus know not of which they speak.

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