Local News

Wake Schools Get Creative to Ease Overcrowding

Posted June 9, 2007 9:42 p.m. EDT

— Classes are over, but the Wake County school system is quickly getting ready for next year.

With an estimated 8,000 new students coming in, they're getting creative to find more space. One new idea is separate ninth grade centers for high schools.

In a matter of months, an old Winn Dixie in Wake Forest has transformed into a ninth grade center for the 600 incoming freshmen at Wakefield High. Molly Joyce is one of them.

“I’m kind of nervous, but I’m more excited,” she said.

It's exciting that freshmen will get their own turf several miles from the main high school, she said.

Wakefield High School is bursting at the seams, and the ninth grade center will help alleviate overcrowding until Heritage High opens in 2009.

The new ninth grade center has 27 classrooms, three science labs, a PE room and a library. It costs $4.7 million for a 10 year lease and $6.5 million for the renovation.

Millbrook, Cary, Wake Forest, Rolesville and Garner high schools are also using ninth grade centers to ease overcrowding, but Wakefield's project is the most unique.

“It’s a real creative thing, because you’re taking an existing building – something that was just a derelict building in the community of Wake Forest,” said Jeff Young, with Wake County schools facilities.

Molly’s mother, Kate Joyce, is optimistic about the opportunity and hopeful that it's a good one.

“That’s my continuous concern is that nothing from an educational standpoint is lost by this,” Joyce said.

Many high schools already separate their freshmen to help them transition. The school system said a crowding solution can be an educational one, too.

Construction on Wakefield's ninth grade center should be complete by July 5. School starts in late August.