Wake County Schools

Tata proposes combined elementary, middle school

Posted September 2, 2011 5:38 p.m. EDT
Updated September 2, 2011 6:29 p.m. EDT

— Wake County schools Superintendent Tony Tata said Friday that having a combined elementary and middle school could save money and benefit students.

Tata has proposed making Hilburn Drive Elementary School in northwest Raleigh into a kindergarten through eighth-grade school.

Hilburn Elementary has 349 students but can hold up to 800 students. The school lost a number of students when two schools recently opened.

There are also plans to build a small middle school off Leesville Church Road. Tata said that, instead of spending $35 million building the new school, classrooms at Hilburn Elementary could be refurbished for far less money.

Staff members at Hilburn Elementary said they think it would be great to have older children roaming the halls.

“I do feel having them here will be a great benefit for the younger kids, to see them as a role model,” STEM coordinator Jennifer Lecorchick said.

This year, Hilburn Elementary became a STEM school focusing on science, technology, engineering and mathematics to help attract students.

"The relationships, the bonds and the program opportunities that would be allowed by that type of format are tremendous," Principal Gregory Ford said.

Jackie Jackle, who has two daughters at the school, said she was shocked at first about the idea. At a parents meeting, she asked Tata whether the school would have the same electives and after-school activities as other middle schools. When he said yes, she became more open to the idea.

"I really think this would be a fantastic thing for our students here. I'm really excited about the prospect," Jackle said.

Tata said he will propose the change to the school board at its meeting on Tuesday. It would go into effect for the 2012-13 school year. Tata said the need for middle school seats in northwest Raleigh will grow by about 300 to 500 in the next few years.