A small but determined group of Cary and Apex families gathered at Apex First Methodist Church's picnic yard to raise the heat on the school board Friday afternoon. The group is opposed to a last-minute reassignment of their children from Apex Elementary to Swift Creek Elementary, an under-enrolled school.
"I wish they would think of our kids as being children and that they need an education. [They're] not just a number," parent Martha Green said.
The administration said the proposed reassignment improves diversity, fills Swift Creek and creates more space at Apex, where a major renovation is scheduled next school year.
Some parents claim the travel distance is entirely too long.
"There is no way I'm going to let my child travel in a bus across Walnut and Tryon roads when there's construction," parent Barbara Edwards said. Walnut Street in Cary is scheduled for a widening in the next year.
Community organizer Taki Donovan said according to parents' research, the root of the problem is a disproportionately high percentage of Swift Creek's base population attends magnet or year-round programs.
"They have chosen to leave. We've chosen to stay, and we think our choice is just as legitimate as anyone else's," he said.
Apex Elementary used to be a magnet program, which the school board eliminated years ago. The school board added this reassignment too late to allow parents to participate in this year's magnet/year-round lottery.
The parents have one last chance to challenge the move at Tuesday's school board meeting. They hope to prevail, but if not, some do not rule out a lawsuit in favor of neighborhood schools.
Rob Deal has been working on the parents' argument.
"There is precedent on our side, the case in Mecklenburg [County] was decided in favor of the parents. We're not at that point yet, and we hope that we don't need to get there, but that is an option available to us," he said.