Wake County Schools

Overcrowding highlights need for more Wake schools

Posted November 27, 2012
Updated November 28, 2012

Wake County Public School System

— The Wake County Board of Education's Policy Committee on Tuesday tabled further discussion of how to limit student enrollment at specific schools for the next school year, saying the issue is further proof that the Democrat-controlled board needs to work with the Republican-controlled Board of Commissioners on a bond referendum to build new schools.

About one of three schools in Wake County is over capacity, and the school system has estimated that it needs to build about three schools a year to accommodate the growing student population.

In the short term, school leaders have proposed "caps" on enrollment at specific, desirable schools that would maintain the size of the student body, forcing any new students who move into a school’s traditional geographical draw to go elsewhere.

"We have not developed a strategy to make sure we're building capacity to meet the growth of Wake County," committee Chairman Jim Martin said. "We're going to have to work with commissioners. This isn't a Republican-Democrat issue. This isn't a liberal-conservative issue. This is people moving to Wake County. Students need to go somewhere. If we don't build schools, we'll have more conversations about capping."

But County Commission Chairman Paul Coble has put off any discussion about a potential $1 billion school construction bond after the school board's controversial and politically divisive votes this summer to change the three-year student assignment plan and to fire former Superintendent Tony Tata.

Coble said he wants to see the board prove that it can work together on a new assignment plan, as well as other initiatives, before even considering a school bond.

Overcrowding highlights need for more Wake schools Overcrowding highlights need for more Wake schools

Under a proposed student assignment plan for the 2013-14 school year – a stop-gap measure until the board can develop a new plan for the 2014-15 school year – about three dozen schools face enrollment caps, which could force children to schools as far as 14 miles away from their homes.

"The issue will be with newcomers and transfer students from charter or private schools," school board member Christine Kushner said. "So we have to be real thoughtful."

Although the assignment proposal would reassign fewer than 1,500 students, capping schools could affect where a lot more go.

How many is unclear.

The school system gets about 7,000 transfer requests every year. In addition, an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 students move into the district each year.

School board members admit that capping a school to new students, while sometimes necessary, is not the best way to handle growth management.

"It's not a good practice," Martin said. "It's not something we want to do long-term."

One possible solution for next year is different levels of capping to help ease overcrowding.

For example, the system might reserve seats in a crowded school for students who live in the base-assignment area, but it would close enrollment to others students.

"So, when we see a school at 105 percent capacity, maybe we sound the alarms then and say, 'OK, we really can't allow a lot of people to come in due to various reasons, like transfers, etc., but, if you happen to live in the school base area, we’ve still got room for a few more,'" board member John Tedesco said.

It's a complex issue, he added, with 169 schools and about 150,000 students.

"We just want to make sure the rules are clear to the public and clear as to how we manage who and where gets capped," he said.


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  • KermitDFrog Nov 28, 2012

    Several schools in western Wake were supposed to operate on year-round schedules. These schools are either operating on traditional or single-track schedules largely because parents did not like the year-round schedules. Now these same parents cannot seem to understand why the school is overcrowded.

    Return the Mills Park schools, Highcroft ES and Alston Ridge ES to full-year-round and the overcrowding issues will be solved in that area.

  • SouthernPackerFan Nov 28, 2012

    look, these schools around every corner is just plain stupid,
    and we get the bill....yeehaw
    build a school with two-three floors, build for the future
    not for today......just look at our infrastructure (Roads)
    to see that the DOT is short-sighted, and now the school board
    hey, too many folks.........no problem........we'll build another school

  • JustAName Nov 28, 2012

    "cary just needs to form our own school board and let wake county have all the politics they want." - ProzacDispenser

    That has my vote.

    Cities have zone plans and such, they know where future houses will be and can guess at how many will have children and such. They should know where the schools need to be built and how big they need to be.

  • LuvLivingInCary Nov 28, 2012

    cary just needs to form our own school board and let wake county have all the politics they want.

  • dollibug Nov 28, 2012

    MANY ISSUES need to be addressed in the *WAKE COUNTY SCHOOL SYSTEM*....there are people in *positions* who should not be there....they need to UNDERSTAND the laws, especially those which apply to ALL SINGLE PARENTS....and what their RIGHT'S AS A PARENT IS IN NC**....funny how some people seem to think that they can *MAKE THEIR OWN LAWS ABOUT THIS*....and for the most part...THEY DO AND GET BY WITH DOING SO...

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Nov 28, 2012

    @whatelseisnew, public money is not your money, nor is it the property of people with kids.

    There are no refunds. If you don't use the government service of public schools, too bad! If you don't go to public parks, no refunds! Stop sticking your hand out! This is not YOUR money. Never was.

    If you are unable or unwilling to see the “do unto others” part in all this, maybe this example will help:

    What would you say if I used a public school voucher to send my children to the Satan-Is-Lord Worship School...or Islamic Jihad Training Camp School...or Baptist Men-Have-Dominion-Over-Women Academy?

    Would you care if NC started subsidizing these schools? Do you think this might be a church-state problem somehow?

    Would you want even your 50 cents of public money going to these places?

    Now you know how we feel about your schools.

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Nov 28, 2012

    Monolithic Dome schools are the answer.

    Seriously. LOOK AT THIS !!!

    This technology will save us Millions of Dollars and allow us to build more and build them quickly.

    Monolithic buildings last for centuries and require almost zero maintenance. If there’s a severe weather event, all the children go to the gymnasium and they play basketball or patty-cake until everything blows over...no worries at all. ( www.monolithic.com/topics/buy-a-school )

    The question is...Why don’t we mandate these structures for our schools? They cost the same to build, they pay for themselves in 20 years with saved heating/cooling & maintenance costs...and they can withstand the toughest hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires & earthquakes.

    They make great houses too. ( www.monolithic.com/stories/the-eye-of-the-storm/photos )

  • btneast Nov 28, 2012

    I will not vote to PUT the very kids that will sit in these seats, in DEBT.

    Yep, there seems to be a perception that if we just throw more money into the current system, it just has to get better. The U.S. spends way more per student than other countries that score consistently higher than we do. Continuing to do the same thing over and over and expecting different results is insanity...

  • btneast Nov 28, 2012

    The people that move here were not schooled in trailers,and won't put up with that .

    ...maybe not, but they are leaving where they were because the taxes and cost of living drove them out....or drove their employer out. More schools being built will raise taxes. Yes, capacity needs to be addressed, but mobile classrooms make more sense. It's a good sturdy roof over your head, and its heated and cooled, so what's the big deal. Mobility allows you to change capacities as population densities change, which will happen. There are lots of Charter and private schools with superior academic performance that are in old retail buildings. In this era of repurposing, why are we not looking at existing structures?

  • whatelseisnew Nov 28, 2012

    Nope what it highlights is the need for using other available space and for making available other options for parents and students that do not include being placed into a Public School.

    "That way if the CC refuse the bond issue the overcrowing is their fault."

    No it is the fault of a system that only sees one way to provide an educational opportunity. Buying property, Building, operating, and maintaining MORE schools is the MOST expensive option. The board along with the CC should be pushing the legislature for student vouchers. The board should be focused on providing opportunities not on continuing to expand the same old failing solution. I will not vote to PUT the very kids that will sit in these seats, in DEBT.