Wake County Schools

Wake board to vote Tuesday on expansion of leadership academies

Posted October 16, 2012

— The Wake County Board of Education could vote Tuesday to expand the county's two new leadership academies, a move that would allow the system to better accommodate the high demand for the single-gender schools and solidify their place within the system moving forward.

The Wake Young Women's and Young Men's Leadership Academies, which opened in July, currently serve sixth-, seventh- and ninth-graders, with a focus on students with no history of college attendance in their families. During the initial sign-up period in the spring, more than 800 students applied for 300 available spots.

If approved, the renovation projects would cost more than $8 million.

The Young Men's Leadership Academy, which will move next year to the Thompson Building on Spring Forest Road, needs $3.4 million in renovations, while the Young Women's Leadership Academy, at the Governor Morehead School on Ashe Avenue, needs $4.6 million.

The board reviewed construction plans at its Oct. 2 work session that would allow both projects to be completed by the start of the 2013-14 school year.

Board members were also expected to discuss a proposed career technical high school that would be housed in an old Coca-Cola bottling plant on South Wilmington Street in downtown Raleigh.

County commissioners on Monday approved a deal to lease the 101,000 square-foot facility and to convert it into a school that would open as early as August 2014.

The school board must still approve the deal.

While board members appear to support the school, they did have concerns during their work session Tuesday about whether it would have a high-school curriculum or early-college curriculum. Students would be allowed to earn college credit for Wake Technical Community College, which is partnering with the school system on the venture.

The board also talked at length about concerns of using old district maps to move forward with a new student assignment plan, saying they are hearing from parents who are confused about what the move will mean for student assignment in the 2013-14 school year.

Board member John Tedesco and other Republican members worry that those maps are based on an old system that led to reassignment and instability in families. They think the board should use maps from this year's assignment plan and make tweaks to them.

"I am a bit confused about what is going on here and how the process is laying out," Tedesco said. "I am having a genuine question about moving forward."

But other board members said this year's "choice plan" dramatically increased busing more than 20 percent and that it is not sustainable.

They reiterated that the intention is not to revert to the old student assignment plan but to borrow the previous maps for 2013-14 while new maps are being created.

Board member Jim Martin said the proposal the board is now working on should not be viewed as confusing, because it is based on three principles: stability, an address-based system and an element of choice when there is room.

"I believe it is clear, simple, sustainable and logical," he said. "Stay where you start. There is an address-based assignment, and where there is capacity, there can be choice."


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • superman Oct 17, 2012

    I hope that Mr. Coble is smart enough that he knows that any agreement made under duress/extortion/or blackmail either oral or in writing is not morally or legally enforceable. His letter to the board is ample proof of his demand. Anyway he wants the program for 7 years and no one even knows if it works.

  • superman Oct 17, 2012

    Where they going to get the 8 million for the renovation? How many buses will it take to transport students from across the county? The board voted for the program under duress. The CC said no bond unless they continue the military training schools. Maybe the board is going along to get the bond issue on the ballot and then they going to cancel the program! Then we going to see how silly Mr. Coble is. The CC have no authority to force the board to have programs. They control the money but they cannot force them to have programs. The CC going to have egg on their face when the board gets the bond issue on the ballot and then several months later cancel the program. Is Mr. Tata in charge of these schools now? Did Mr. Coble give his personal friend Mr. Tata a job?

  • jcthai Oct 17, 2012

    So why is this still on the front page as a current story?

  • westernwake1 Oct 16, 2012

    The votes to support the expansion of the Men's and Women's Leadership Academies passed 9 to 0. Good to see all the board members supporting these excellent programs.

  • westernwake1 Oct 16, 2012

    Just completed the school board member speak-out portion of the meeting. Four of the Democrats completely ignored the speakers and did not address the Leadership Academies. The four Republicans applauded the parents and children who spoke and were supportive of the Leadership Academies. Democrat Keith Sutton came out strongly in support of the Leadership Academies and was extemely supportive of the parent and children.

    Democrat Jim Martin spent his speak-out period rambling through a quote from Bill Friday trying to outline the importance of diversity in schools.

    Now discussion of item 18 (the first renovation request for the Leadership Academies - Thompson site), Jim Martin said he has big doubts but said he would support them. He is demanding that the parents and students support diversity in Wake schools, and says he is "not completely happy with his vote tonight".

  • Hubris Oct 16, 2012

    "There is also an expectation to provide leadership and volunteering in the community." westernwake1

    You fail to realize that excellent grades, leadership, community volunteering are all a distant 2nd place to the Democrats' goal of racial diversity at any cost.

  • westernwake1 Oct 16, 2012

    I am watching the WRAL video feed of the school board meeting on approving renovating facilities for the Leadership Academies. It is currently the public speaking period. A large number of students and parents from these school are speaking explaining how the Leadership Academies have helped them improve.

    As expected, all the Republican board members are generally clapping politely & briefly after each speaker. The Democrats are sitting there with their arms folded and scowling. In terms of demographics, at this point about half the speakers have been black and half not.

    One interesting note, the students have to wear uniforms at these academies, and as stated earlier the schools are single gender. The schools provide small class sizes, and set expectations for students to be academically successful with the intent to be college-bound (with an associated early college program). There is also an expectation to provide leadership and volunteering in the community.

  • westernwake1 Oct 16, 2012

    "Ah yes, once again a Government body defines a criteria by which it discriminates. The only criteria should be the academic achievement of each student that gets into one of these spots. Nothing else should be used." - whatelseisnew

    By definition, Leadership Academies are focused on children who are not generally doing academically well in a standard school environment or come from homes where the parents generally are not college educated & can provide homework help.

    Students near the top of their class in standard schools probably do not desire to attend a Leadership Academy.

    The mission of the Wake County School System should be to educate every single child. Some children require special programs to help them be successful. Leadership Academies are one type of program that has been successfully implemented in other states for 'at-risk' chilcren and have been hugely successful in improving their academics and graduation rates.

  • offthegrid7165 Oct 16, 2012

    And what exactly do these fools know about leadership?

  • snossg1 Oct 16, 2012

    The boys leadership academy would move to the Thompson building near downtown. They are presently in temporary quarters on Spring Forest Road.