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Wake School System Holds Fair To Attract Students To Magnet Programs

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WAKE COUNTY, N.C. — The Wake County Public School System held a Magnet Fair on Saturday that was designed to attract more students to the system's 50 specialized schools at a time when the district is experiencing rapid growth and when reassignments have become almost annual events.

More than 2,000 students were reassigned to other schools in Wake County this year. Next year, that number could be larger as the district plans to open five new elementary schools and two new high schools.

"I think there's no question magnet schools help with the growth issue," said Caroline Massengill, director of magnet programs for the Wake County Public School System. "The challenging part right now is that so much of our growth is moving further and further to the outer realms of the county."

This has led to longer bus rides for some students.

"We try our best to have children on the bus no more than an hour," Massengill said. "Sometimes it's a little longer than that, but that is our goal."

Parent Rick Petty said he wants his daughter to attend a magnet school. But, he said, "If they're going to be on a bus for two hours of a six-hour school day, I don't know if it's worth it or not."

Petty said he's considering moving closer to his choices so his daughter will not have a long bus rise.

The appeal of magnet programs is, in part, the fear of reassignment, some parents said.

Wake County does not reassign students who attend magnet schools.

That's an added bonus for parents such as Marvin Caldwell who want their children to stay put.

"In our opinion, the magnet schools offer much more stability, as far as whether you're going to be moved or not," Caldwell said.

The school system admits students to magnet schools based on a weighted lottery system. That means if students live near a school that is overcrowded, they have a better chance of getting into a magnet school.

Parents can apply for their children to attend magnet schools for the next school year during a 10-day period in February.

There are 35 program or themed magnet schools in Wake County, and 15 year-round magnet schools.


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