Local News

Broughton High loses magnet program

Posted December 10, 2008 6:15 a.m. EST
Updated December 10, 2008 6:19 p.m. EST

— Wake County school board members voted Wednesday to strip Broughton High School of its magnet status.

The 5-4 vote came after about three hours of debate. Chairwoman Rosa Gill had the tie-breaking vote, after board members Patti Head, Beverley Clark, Ron Margiotta and Lori Millberg voted to remove the magnet program and board members Anne McLaurin, Horace Tart, Kevin Hill and Eleanor Goettee voted to retain it.

Many Broughton High students chose to attend the Wednesday morning meeting to lobby for the magnet program. One student said after the vote: "The fight is not over."

"No one wants to give up; we're not going to give up something we want. Something we like,” student Forrest Finch said.

"Americans need to perform better and be more challenged. This program does that for the students, and we got rid of it – that makes no economical sense,” parent Lylla Childress said.

The International Baccalaureate program will be phased out at the school over five years. The prestigious program will be moved to Millbrook High School during that period. School officials estimated the switch will cost about $2 million.

Some in the community credited the IB program with making Broughton High successful. Others said the high school is so successful that it no longer meets the criteria to be a magnet school, though specifics of that argument are unclear.

"It is somewhat offensive to have parents who make claims about a program that they have never experienced and call for its removal," magnet supporter Caroline Monson told school board members during the debate. "A major financial investment has been made at the IB program at Broughton, and I beg you ... to find a way for Wake County to benefit from that investment rather than throwing it away."

A statement from Superintendent Del Burns in the district's booklet on magnet schools says, "For 26 years, magnet programs have been an effective means of addressing diversity and helping students experience success. Magnet schools provide a variety of teaching approaches and curriculum offerings that help to customize a student’s educational program. Additionally, the magnet schools’ network has provided a positive climate through which other critical issues have been addressed – educational choice and effective use of space."

Former and current students held signs and candles during a rally outside the school Tuesday afternoon. They urged school board members to keep the school's magnet status.

“It's not only given us a better way to learn, a better curriculum, but it has taught us to speak out," Finch said. "When we are faced with this issue, we are not being disrespectful. We are not being a mean group of students. We're trying to say what we believe in, what we think is right, and what we know is better for us as students.”

In October, the school board informally, yet unanimously, agreed to keep the magnet status at Broughton High. They also suggested that more students should be in the program.

Some parents protested that possibility, saying that expanding the magnet program would mean some neighborhood kids who aren't in it would have to be reassigned to other schools to make room for more magnet students.

That movement reportedly caused some board members to reconsider their support for the earlier plans.

"Broughton will again survive this change, and it will emerge with a better, intact school system," magnet opponent Bart White told board members Wednesday. "I ask you to keep the traditional base (enrollment), which if left alone, will keep Broughton a strong school."