Local News

Changes made to school reassignment proposal

Posted December 1, 2008 5:21 p.m. EST
Updated December 2, 2008 11:11 a.m. EST

— As a group of Cary parents was coming together to fight the county's three-year school reassignment plan for 26,000 students, the school system was announcing changes to the draft because of complaints already raised.

As of last week, the school system had received 2,000 comments about the proposed plan, which is based on 10 new schools' opening and projected population growth. Based on parent concerns, four changes were announced Monday evening to the reassignment plan:

  • Assign areas along Harrison Avenue from Panther Creek to Cary High, rather than Athens High, based upon prior reassignment history.
  • Consolidate Yates Mill Elementary areas in a feeder pattern to Dillard Middle and Athens Drive High to strengthen the Athens base.
  • Leave areas at Green Hope based upon proximity and separation from other Cary High assignments.
  • Leave areas at Apex High in anticipation of future changes.

"The draft is changing from day to day,” said Chuck Dulaney, Wake County Public School System assistant superintendent for growth and planning.

The reassignment proposal is an attempt by the school system to begin planning for population growth and student movement more than one year in advance.

Parents and students heard about the changes at a Community Engagement Meeting at Cary High School, one of a series of meetings scheduled to gather opinion on the draft proposal.

"We are thrilled tonight,” Carolyn Sparano said after learning her child will go to Cary High after all.

Heather Schneider's child will also go to Apex High, instead of the proposed suggestion of Cary High. However, she is still nervous the plan could be changed back.

“It is not set in stone,” she said.

Some students, still being reassigned, said moving to another school would tear them from their friends.

"This reassignment will be very traumatic for me and my friends,” a student said.

Some parents said the proposed reassignment plan would send children outside their neighborhoods, to schools in other towns.

"Apex children are sent to Cary High and the Cary students are sent to Apex High,” a parent said.

"No one wants to lose the seats in their schools to accommodate someone that lives 20 miles away,” Wake County Board of Education member Ron Margiotta said.

The public is invited to comment on the plan in public meetings through Dec. 10. Public meetings, each beginning at 6:30 p.m., are as follows:

  • Dec. 3 – Wake Forest-Rolesville High, 420 W. Stadium Drive in Wake Forest
  • Dec. 4 – Holly Springs High, 5329 Cass Holt Road in Holly Springs
  • Dec. 8 – Broughton High, 723 St. Mary's St. in Raleigh 

About the plan

For 2009-2010, the first year of the plan, 8,162 students would be reassigned. Three new elementary schools will open up in eastern and southern Wake County, necessitating moving younger students in those areas.

Middle- and high-schoolers will also be moved in western Wake to relieve overcrowding, particularly in Cary.

The plan calls for the greatest number of students – 14,200 – to be reassigned in 2010-2011, when two high schools, two middle schools and one elementary school open. Most students moved will be in northern, western and southern Wake that year.

In 2011-2012, 4,409 students will be reassigned as an elementary school and a middle school open in northern and southeastern Wake.

The Wake County Board of Education will determine which reassigned students are eligible for grandfathering, allowing them to stay at their current schools. In the past, students have been required to provide their own transportation to school if they did not move.

The second and third years of the draft assume that the 10 schools will open as planned. However, their construction is dependent on capital funding and enrollment growth.

Overall, the number of students reassigned is comparable to those moved in the past three one-year plans.

How the plan was formed

More than 100 parents and educators met and discussed reassignment options for over 5,000 total person-hours. School system officials said they kept in mind the concerns that emerged from those planning sessions.

Of paramount importance was keeping the same students together through elementary, middle and high school.

Officials said they also considered schools' socioeconomic balance, the distance students would be bussed and the state's magnet-school policy.

Next steps

Taking into account public feedback, WCPSS staff will make their recommendations to the county Board of Education by Dec. 16.

The school board will hold a new round of public meetings and finalize the plan by or on Feb. 3, 2009.

Mailings will then be sent out to the parents of affected students, who will know their final assignments by mid-May of next year.