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N. Raleigh Parents Look For Ways To Prevent Reassignment

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Every high school in Wake County is affected in next year's reassignment proposal, but there's one particular shift that really strikes a nerve to the north of Raleigh. Many parents are spending their holiday break planning, meeting and talking about ways to change it.

The Wake County School System knew the high school reassignments would be tough. Half of the 4,300 high schoolers in the proposal would go to a school farther away.

A group of parents from Wakefield High School hope to bide some time. The same is true at Millbrook. They all feel they have good reason to fight.

"No one wants to go through that if they don't have to," said Tim McBrayer, a parent with a 13-year-old and a 16-year-old at home.

"I think it's harder for high school students," said Tim's wife Linda. "They've established themselves. It's easier when they're younger to make the move."

Jenna McBrayer is slated to start her freshman year at Millbrook High School instead of Wakefield next fall. She may choose to follow her sister to a charter high school or accept the move if it isn't changed.

"Yeah, I'm definitely hoping it doesn't happen," said Jenna.

Her father doesn't see why it should happen and he has solutions to prevent Wakefield students from leaving.

"They've (the school board) got to think out of the box to do what they can to keep the kids from having to move," said Tim.

A ninth-grade center housed in a temporary modular is one suggestion until another high school is built in Northern Wake County in the next few years.

Wakefield and Millbrook parents are both unhappy about the shift. As it stands, the proposal would shift 445 students from Wakefield to Millbrook High. Around 175 students would then move from Millbrook to Sanderson High.

"We are neighborhoods that have been at Millbrook for 25 years," said Jody Gross, a Millbrook parent whose children may be reassigned.

For these parents slated to move from Millbrook, it's about tradition. Another group fighting the move to Millbrook said it's just too far away.

"I was shocked to see that they'd put us at a school so far away," said Mary Johnson, whose son is slated to move from Wakefield to Millbrook

McBrayer thinks if he can't change these reassignments now, several neighborhoods may be out of sync and far from school for a long time to come.

There is talk of a ninth-grade center for Wakefield, but it wouldn't come online until 2007. The proposed shift for high schools was designed to relieve immediate crowding in the northern part of the county.

There's no guarantee another high school is coming to Wake County in the next few years because the funding still needs the approval of voters.

Parents have until Sunday to mail, fax, e-mail or phone the Wake County School System with feedback on next year's Reassignment Proposal. The proposal goes to the school board in February. Public hearings will start in March.

More than 11,000 students are slated to change schools next year. The move will fill seven new schools and also relieve overcrowding.

Around 3,000 students in the proposal can grandfather back to their existing school.


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