Local News

Wake Schools Getting High-Tech Help To Track, Plan Growth

Posted May 30, 2006 11:35 a.m. EDT

— The Wake County School System is expected to more than double by 2025.

An enrollment of about 127,000 students is expected next school year. The numbers could explode to 254,000 in less than 20 years.

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    So, the school system recruited some high-tech help to make sure those schools get a good home.

    Holly Springs is one of the communities in the county that is growing.

    "We're growing by 2.7 families a day," says Chet VanFossen, a Holly Springs Town Commissioner.

    And Holly Springs is not alone, which is why the Wake County School System is putting the county under a microscope.

    "Right now we have every reason to believe that in the next five years we'll have 45,000 more students in our school system," explains Chuck Dulaney with the Wake County School System.

    A research arm of North Carolina State University, called the Operations Research/Education Laboratory, is helping the school system decide where schools should be built and when. They have divided the county into 6,000 pieces of land to determine growth patterns.

    The data from all 13 of Wake County's municipalities can help determine where future schools should be built for the next 20 years.

    Right now the trend is toward the corners of the county, following completion of the Interstate 540 loop.

    "This is a massive amount of data and it's a massive undertaking for all the planners," said Mike Miller with the lab.

    The data is massive because it takes cooperation and information from every community planner in Wake County. The first projections will tell Wake County where to build schools beginning in 2010.

    The school board is already trying to appropriate funds to buy land for these future schools. They have set aside $33 million in the upcoming bond package for 13 schools to be built between 2011 and 2013.

    Wake Schools started the project about a year and a half ago. Projections for schools in 2010 will be ready at the end of June.

    N.C. State's Lab works on more than 30 school systems across the state with Wake County as its biggest project.