Local News

Apex Eyes Private School to Avoid Year-Round Mandate

Posted April 20, 2007 7:12 p.m. EDT
Updated April 20, 2007 8:25 p.m. EDT

— Town residents and officials met Friday to come up with a back-up plan in case they lose their court fight to block a forced move to year-round schools.

A group of parents organized as WakeCARES has sued the Wake County school system to stop the planned conversion of 19 elementary and three middle schools from traditional calendars to year-round schedules. The parents said the switch would disrupt their families' lives.

School district officials say they need the extra classroom seats offered by year-round schools to accommodate a projected enrollment increase of 8,000 students this fall.

Superior Court Judge Howard Manning heard arguments in the case Wednesday but isn't expected to rule for another week.

About two dozen people met Friday to discuss plans for starting a private school or charter school to give them an alternative to  their children attending a year-round school.

"I feel like there is an overwhelming need for alternatives in Wake County," parent Patrice Lee said.

Organizers said they would pursue plans for a private or charter school regardless of whether they win their suit against the district.

"We've got to figure out what we need interms of land and financing. We won't have any problem with parents willing and interested in putting their children in it. That won't be an issue," local business owner Kent Misegades said.

A school that can accommodate 400 students would cost roughly $2 million to build, another $2 million a year in operating costs and about four acres of land.

Organizers said an affordable private school could be up and running in a year. Tuition would be about $5,000 a year, and scholarship money would make it accessible to low-income families, they said.

The state already is at its maximum allowed number of charter schools. But a bill pending in the legislature would raise the statewide cap and allow more charter schools to open.

"I feel very optiistic that this can happen for Apex families," Mayor Keith Weatherly said. "I think it will be an overwhelming positive response. I believe this school could be sold out at capacity the day after it's announced. We're going to have one."