Local News

Debate lingers over revised Wake reassignment plan

Posted January 5, 2009 9:55 p.m. EST
Updated March 9, 2009 5:12 p.m. EDT

— Parents, students and politicians took aim at the Wake school district's revised student-reassignment proposal during a public hearing Monday evening at Apex High School.

Families in Churchill Downs, MacGregor Downs, Royal Ridge and Woods of Kildaire say they will be affected by reassignment. Although some students reside within five miles of Apex High and Cary High, the reassignment plan has them attending Raleigh's Athens Drive High.

Pam Taylor's ninth-grader could be one of those students switching schools.

"She is very upset. These are her friends. She doesn't know anyone at Athens,” Taylor said.

That was just the kind of concern school board member Eleanor Goettee said she wanted to hear about.

"We are listening and having the public talk and speak,” Goettee said.

Athens Drive is under its capacity, while Apex High is over its capacity, Goettee said.

However, families say mobile classrooms are opening at Apex, creating more than 380 seats. They also say data shows enrollment will decline in some neighborhoods.

The mayors of Cary and Apex, along with nearly 40 other people, spoke against the reassignment proposal at Monday's hearing.

"They are about to be torn away from their friends, their teachers, what they have known,” student Becky Darby said.

Under the latest plan, about 9,800 students will be reassigned next year, another 11,008 the following year and 4,677 in the 2011-2012 school year. The original plan would have moved nearly 1,000 more.

"Student assignment is a highly personal and potentially emotional issue,” school board Chairwoman Rosa Gill said.

Administrators said they revised the plan after hearing from the public at five meetings attended by 1,800 people and after receiving more than 4,000 comments online.

School officials said the plan was developed primarily to account for projected growth and the planned openings of 10 new schools. The district also needs to make room for low-income students who are often bused to meet economic-diversity goals for each school.

School board members said more changes to the plan are expected.

"We are looking at tweaking (and) refining. There will be some changes the board will make to the proposal,” Gill said.

The next public hearings on the reassignment proposal will be:

  • Jan. 8 at Southeast Raleigh High School, 2600 Rock Quarry Road, Raleigh
  • Jan. 12 at Millbrook High School, 2201 Spring Forest Road, Raleigh
  • Jan. 14 at Fuquay-Varina High School, 201 Bengal Blvd., Fuquay-Varina
  • Jan. 15 at East Wake High School, 5101 Rolesville Road, Wendell

The official hearing begins at 6:30 p.m. in the school auditorium at 1501 Laura Duncan Road. The district's Web site has more information about speaking at the public hearings.

The Wake County Board of Education will finalize the reassignment plan by Feb. 3. Mailings will then be sent to the parents of affected students, who will know their final assignments by mid-May.