Wake County Schools

Little drama as Wake approves student assignment for 2015-16

Posted December 2, 2014 5:14 p.m. EST
Updated December 2, 2014 10:44 p.m. EST

— The Wake County Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a student assignment plan aimed at accommodating a growing student body and filling three new schools for the 2015-16 school year.

The proposal, which affects 26 elementary schools, 18 middle schools and 13 high schools, also continues goals of tightening up student assignments, using school proximity and aligning school calendars so that students remain on the same school calendar from elementary to high school.

An estimated 2,700 students across the county are impacted by the plan. That's less than 2 percent of the total enrollment.

"We feel that what we came up with was as logical and as fair and minimizes changes for our families," said board member Susan Evans.

In opening the meeting, Board Chairwoman Christine Kushner said, "Student assignment has always been very central to the issues of the board, and, at times, it has overtaken student achievement."

She praised the process this time around for transparency and a lack of the drama that has marked previous reassignment discussions.

Throughout the planning process, the board has made changes to the plan based on feedback received through meetings, online comments and emails.

About half of the students shifting schools will do so to fill Abbotts Creek Elementary, Scotts Ridge Elementary and Apex Friendship High School.

Kushner pointed out a young woman in the audience who had spoken out in public meetings and said she knew that the student, a rising Apex sophomore, was likely to be unhappy with her assignment to the planned Apex Friendship High School.

Other board members chimed in to support the plan, noting the stress associated with school reassignment but assuring the student that it would be for the best.

Not all feedback requests, however, were granted, staff said, because doing so would have created efficiency issues or the changes were not positively supported by data.

"Know that I applaud the passion that you have for your children and your schools," Kushner said. "I want the community to know that we care very deeply for every school in Wake County, and these have been very difficult and frustrating decisions."

Evans emphasized the challenge of the growing student population, especially in her district in southern Wake County.

"I can't wait to do it all over again next year, because guess what: I'll have several new schools opening in my district again next year. Woo hoo," Evans said.

Some employees get Christmas bonus

Christmas came early for some support staff in the county's schools when the board voted unanimously in favor of a $1,250 bonus.

The money goes to non-certified workers like clerks, custodians and bus drivers. 

Teachers and administrators, many of whom got a pay raise this year authorized by the state legislature, will not get the bonus.

Board members said they'd work on a way to supplement increases for teachers who received less than others.

Wake school board names new leadership

Tuesday's meeting was the board's annual reorganization meeting, and they opened with a vote on the board chair and co-chair. Board members re-elected Kushner, who represents central Raleigh, as chairwoman of the board and Tom Benton, who represents northeast Wake County, as vice chairman.

New schools get names

In a work session before Tuesday's meeting, board members gave the thumbs-up on the names for four new schools to open over the next three years.

In eastern Raleigh, Beaver Dam Elementary will open for the 2016-17 school year.

That same year, White Oak Elementary will open in southwest Cary; and Oak View Elementary will open in west Holly Springs.

Northeast Raleigh will get a new middle school in 2017. It will be called River Bend Middle School.

All of the new schools will be paid for by bond money approved by voters in 2013.