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Some Wake schools have little space for new students

Posted August 21, 2008

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— Finding space for 5,000 new students will be a challenge when traditional-calendar Wake County schools start next Monday.

Three new elementary schools will help handle the growth, but the problems in high schools will be greater.

While four high schools will be at least 300 students under capacity, seven will have more than 100 students more than they were built to accommodate. See a list of high schools that are above and below capacity.

Panther Creek High School in Cary will face the biggest challenge when it opens with 487 new students this fall.

Two years ago, Panther Creek was built with a capacity of 1,600 students, but its enrollment keeps going up, as do new homes in northwest Cary.

"Twenty-two hundred kids is what they're predicting," teacher Jennifer Dean said.

Extra trailers ordered by the Wake County Public School System, though, will not be in place on Monday to accommodate the hundreds of new students at Panther Creek. Teachers said they will have to get creative with space to do their jobs.

"I think they've talked about using the hallways in some areas, around the cafeteria and the gym," Dean said.

"It does bother me a little bit, concerns me," Dana Rando, the parent of a Panther Creek student, said. "I would like to think that since it's a new school, they would be prepared at this point in time."

WCPSS officials said they have run into issues getting a permit from the Town of Cary. The permit is required to add the 22 mobile classrooms to the high school.

Cary officials said the increase in students will mean an increase in traffic, so a traffic study must be done before the modular units can be installed. That study is set to be done in September, and depending on its findings, the trailers will be installed in October or November.

Wake County School Board member Ron Margiotta said district officials were late in applying for the permit. Cary received the application in mid-May.

"We knew this growth was going to be here two years ago," Margiotta said. "It's just indicative of the large school  systems that can't get their job done properly."

Cary officials said the town was making all possible efforts to support the school system.

Panther Creek's principal and vice-principals were unavailable for comment.


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  • NCTeacher Aug 22, 2008

    Some of you are just never going to be satisfied. If they built a huge school that would house 10,000 students- there would still be someone on here complaining that the school was frivolous with its building money and should have used trailers to save costs.

    And I love how EVERYTHING is blamed on the principal and assistant principal. Everything that happens in a school (money, building, permits, etc) all must go through central office. I put in a work order for cubbies (we don't have lockers and I didn't have enough for all of my students) to be built at the end of 2006-2007 school year. My principal put in another work order over the summer, hoping that would speed the process. They haven't even been built yet- much less brought to the school and installed in my class

  • yoltfortomorrow Aug 22, 2008

    "The administration at PCHS has been caring, considerate and an outstanding group of professionals."

    This is simply not true at all. Ask hardly any of the students who have been to another high school and they will say they wish they were still there.

    The PCHS administration has hired teachers just to fill spaces during the school year even if they have no idea about what they are teaching, the principal is never seen to promote school spirit and spends most of the time stuffed back in his office. The administration makes it difficult for clubs and extra curricular activities as well because they feel everything should have 'educational value'. This is why many students say the administration makes PCHS feel like a prison. I've even heard teachers complain about the strictness of the administration.

    PCHS does not provide a true high school experience for any of the students. Parents can't comment on this, ask any of the students and you'll see great dislike for the school.

  • raleigh-cary Aug 22, 2008

    Earlier post by someone: "Just so ya'll know, it's not any better in the "small towns"...got brand new schools with brand new trailers behind them...and brand new decks, with brand new roofs over them..."

    But Panther Creek doesn't have the trailers ready -- It will be at least October before they are ready. The principal has said second semester. Not getting the trailers/modular units in place in time is the issue here - - not just an overcrowded school. They've been saying since last winter that there would be a need for modular units at PC.

  • familyfour Aug 22, 2008

    Just so ya'll know, it's not any better in the "small towns"...got brand new schools with brand new trailers behind them...and brand new decks, with brand new roofs over them...

    And I am sooooo tired of everthing being blamed on aliens. I attended school in a small town, but had the same spacial, funding, and generally all the other same problems, and didn't go to school with a single Latin person, much less the child of an alien. I didn't see one of those 'till I moved here.

  • Not_So_Dumb Aug 22, 2008

    The problem is that it takes 3-5 years to build a school. When shopping malls can go up in a year because they are based on standing designs, you'd think WCPSS would learn something. Of course not, they can pay for design fees with tax money, not their own!

  • Here kitty kitty Aug 22, 2008

    Since they refuse to go year round, put them in closets and in the cafeterias and gyms. Then when you complain about them being in closets I have 2 words for you...SHUT UP!!!

  • ifcdirector Aug 22, 2008

    Start by taking out all of the illegal alien kids who have zero right to an education in this country on my dime.

  • szdomb Aug 22, 2008

    hondaman: "Best immediate solution is to get rid of the illegals in the schools. The state is worried about 112 illegals enrolled state wide in the community college. And there are thousands enrolled in the public schools."


  • mjones3 Aug 22, 2008

    Lyle.......in response to your comment about Overcrowding, gang members, lousy administration at PCHS: My daughter will be in the 1st graduating class this year at PCHS and my son is a freshmen. The administration at PCHS has been caring, considerate and an outstanding group of professionals. I am very active in my children's education and have never had an incident with anyone at PCHS whether they are an administrative person, teacher, coach or volunteer. I totally resent your negative comment about this school's administration. The fact remains that crowding and growth in Wake County continues at record rates. I too, am very shocked at the projected over crowding with such a brand new school. The fact remains that people move into Wake County for all that it has to offer and the public school systems are one of the reasons we continue to attract the masses. Who can blame people for wanting a nice place to live and raise your family.

  • raleigh-cary Aug 22, 2008

    In regard to this comment,

    "A new high school opening this fall would have started construction about 5 years ago. Planning the space and the size would have started about 6-7 years ago. The school board cannot hope to speculate how many houses will be built and where in a 7 year time span. Builders do not even know that far ahead where they will be building houses and apartments."

    Perhaps so, but the process of getting modular units of some sort should have definitely be initiated much sooner without having to now wait for a traffic study. When the lack of space is an emergency, then the 'usual' procedure for doing something should be flexible.