Local News

Parents Protest Wake County School Reassignment Plan

Posted January 12, 2008 9:47 p.m. EST
Updated January 15, 2008 12:58 a.m. EST

— Some Cary parents say the Wake County reassignment plan will destroy their neighborhood schools.

More than 60 parents rallied Saturday at Town Hall hoping to prompt change.

“We love the community. I volunteer at the school. My children can walk to school,” said parent Ryn Hagstrom.

All that will change if the school board's reassignment proposal becomes policy. Students at Oak Grove Elementary, Davis Drive Elementary, Farmington Woods Elementary and Combs Elementary could be shuffled.

“We have written up pages and pages of solutions. We've shown them where their numbers are wrong,” Hagstrom said.

The parents say they feel their concerns are falling on deaf ears.

"They've [school board members] pretty much told us, we don't care if your family's upset, we don't care if your community's broken apart, we don't care if you neighborhood school's turned upside down. We're [school board members] just looking at the stats," she said.

Hagstrom grew up in Cary and chose to stay because of its quality of life.

"This is my home. I didn't come from somewhere else. I stayed because this is a great place to live. It's a great school system and they [the Wake County school board] are ruining it," she said.

“There's 118 children at Oak Grove Elementary School. That's to us, no small potatoes. To the school board, we're small potatoes and they need to step up and represent us,” said parent Katie Sommers.

Board members said the reassignment is necessary to fill three new schools opening in the fall and to reshuffle students among existing schools, so they will be in classrooms instead of trailers.

"If I did not believe all of these children were going to get a quality education at their assigned school, I could not support any of it, but I'm convinced they will,” said school board member Eleanor Goettee.

Goettee, who represents the western Wake County district, said her job is to balance concerns with district demands.

"But for me to actually advocate for a change in the reassignment plan, I need to see a reason that rises above those shared by all other parents in the system," she said.

Goettee said she and other school board members have met with parents individually, as well as responded to dozens of e-mails.

She said the school board has not yet had a chance to respond to solutions offered by Cary parents.

"We've read them all and we have not had a chance to talk about it among ourselves and we will be doing that in upcoming work sessions," Goettee said.

Some town council members hope to convince the school board to consider other options.

“That sway we're looking for is just the opportunity to discuss other options, long-term options. Not just about Davis Drive Elementary and Oak Grove but what are we going to do in the long-term, in the short-term,” said Cary town council member Gale Adcock.

“We want a place at the table. We're stakeholders in this and we want to see some compromise out of the school board,” Sommers said.

The first of three public hearings on the reassignment plan is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 15 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Sanderson High School.

“We're going to sit down and go bit by bit, node by node, school by school, and try to determine what's in the best interest of families, communities and the schools,” Goettee said.

The school board will finalize the reassignment plan in February.