Wake County Schools

Parents like proximity of new Raleigh elementary school

Posted March 18, 2011 10:35 p.m. EDT
Updated March 19, 2011 10:02 a.m. EDT

— Parents and staff of Raleigh's newest elementary school met Friday with Superintendent Tony Tata to discuss the pros and cons of the school which opens in August.

Walnut Creek Elementary School, which will draw about 780 students from a mostly low-income area of southeast Raleigh, has been a flashpoint in the ongoing debate about student assignment within the district.

For a decade, Wake County schools were populated with an eye toward diversifying student bodies so no one school had a high proportion of students who qualified for low- or reduced-price lunch. The idea was that socio-economic diversity promoted equal educational opportunity at all schools.

But last spring, the school board overturned that policy, which they said led to long bus rides and students in schools far from home. Instead, Tata is working on a student assignment plan that would emphasize neighborhood schools, leaving those from low-income neighborhoods clustered in schools like Walnut Creek.

Tata told the crowd Friday that he is aware of that concern. About 80 percent of the students in the Walnut Creek enrollment zone will qualify for free- or reduced-price lunches.

He and Walnut Creek Principal Corey Moore have planned for an extra 45 minutes at school each day and a focus on teaching science, technology, engineering and math.

"We understand the population that is going to be there," Moore said.

"We're going to make this the best school possible for the children that are going to be attending Walnut Creek," Tata added.

Aquarius Muldrow said she is just pleased that her daughter will have a new, nearby school to attend.

"It's right here at home just in case something happens," she said.

School board member John Tedesco, a champion of neighborhood schools, said he has heard the same feedback. Parents are pleased to have their children closer to home, he said.