Local News

Apex parents rally against school reassignment

Posted November 23, 2008 10:45 p.m. EST
Updated November 24, 2008 9:58 a.m. EST

— A group of parents in Apex is coming together to fight the Wake school system's plan to reassign more than 26,000 students over the next three years as news schools open and the district grows.

“We will do whatever we have to do to fight this. We are totally outraged,” parent Rob Galvin said.

Armed with a petition and a PowerPoint presentation, Galvin is helping lead the charge to stop students from changing schools in Apex. He and other parents met Sunday evening to discuss how they can fight the reassignment proposal that would move an estimated 200 students from Apex High School to Cary High School next year.

“My main concern is the quality of education. That was the main reason we moved into the neighborhood that we are in, is to get the quality of education,” parent Nander Brown said.

The reassignment proposal is an attempt by the Wake County Public School System to begin planning for population growth and student movement more than a year in advance. District authorities said planning for three years would save money for schools and lessen aggravation for families.

The school system also says it needs to make room for low-income students who are often bused to schools to achieve economic diversity.

“There is no evidence to show if you bus a kid across town, they do better,” parent Marcy Bullock said.

Wake County Board of Education member Ron Margiotta was at the community rally in Apex Sunday night. He is against redistricting for economic reasons.

"We aren't in the Bronx, N.Y. We aren't in Detroit. This is Wake County, and those lower-income students can and should get the same education in their own communities,” Margiotta said.

The public is invited to comment on the plan in public meetings through Dec. 10. Public meetings, each beginning at 6:30 p.m., are as follows:

  • Dec. 1 – Cary High, 638 Walnut St. in Cary
  • Dec. 3 – Wake Forest-Rolesville High, 420 W. Stadium Drive in Wake Forest
  • Dec. 4 – Holly Springs High, 5329 Cass Holt Road in Holly Springs
  • Dec. 8 – Broughton High, 723 St. Mary's St. in Raleigh 

About the plan

For 2009-2010, the first year of the plan, 8,162 students would be reassigned. Three new elementary schools will open up in eastern and southern Wake County, necessitating moving younger students in those areas.

Middle- and high-schoolers will also be moved in western Wake to relieve overcrowding, particularly in Cary.

The plan calls for the greatest number of students – 14,200 – to be reassigned in 2010-2011, when two high schools, two middle schools and one elementary school open. Most students moved will be in northern, western and southern Wake that year.

In 2011-2012, 4,409 students will be reassigned as an elementary school and a middle school open in northern and southeastern Wake.

The Wake County Board of Education will determine which reassigned students are eligible for grandfathering, allowing them to stay at their current schools. In the past, students have been required to provide their own transportation to school if they did not move.

The second and third year of the draft assume that the 10 schools will open as planned. However, their construction is dependent on capital funding and enrollment growth.

Overall, the number of students reassigned is comparable to those moved in the past three one-year plans.

How the plan was formed

More than 100 parents and educators met and discussed reassignment options for over 5,000 total person-hours. School system officials said they kept in mind the concerns that emerged from those planning sessions.

Of paramount importance was keeping the same students together through elementary, middle and high school.

Officials said they also considered schools' socioeconomic balance, the distance students would be bussed and the state's magnet-school policy.

Next steps

Taking into account public feedback, WCPSS staff will make their recommendations to the county Board of Education by Dec. 16.

The school board will hold a new round of public meetings and finalize the plan by or on Feb. 3, 2009.

Mailings will then be sent out to the parents of affected students, who will know their final assignments by mid-May of next year.