Wake County Schools

Students, parents prepare for changes as new school year begins

Posted August 23, 2015 10:17 p.m. EDT
Updated August 24, 2015 6:48 a.m. EDT

— There’s always a to-do list for parents and students to check off before the first day of school, but school districts have to prepare too. Wake County, the largest school system in the state, has implemented some changes that will have a wide-spread impact.

Lee Shipman and his son, Jaiden, squeezed out the last bit of summer just before sunset at Pullen Park. He’s one of an expected 158,000 students returning to class in Wake County for the traditional school year Monday morning. Shipman says he feels prepared about what to expect.

“I can say we have been greatly informed about everything that’s going on. Communication is very well with us,” said Shipman.

For students like Houston Taft, who is just starting kindergarten, it’s a clean slate with Wake County schools.

“I am excited [that] I get to meet new people,” said Taft.

Those who have been around for a while remember a few rough starts to the school year in the past.

“Was it last year or the year before, was a really rough start,” said parent of two high school students, Sheri Mello. “My child was actually sitting on the aisle floor because the bus was overcrowded.”

This year, new safety procedures give bus drivers more control during the boarding process with a switch allowing them to check traffic before opening doors and extending the crossing guard.

Also expected to change is the grading system for middle school and high school students. It will now be calculated on a ten-point scale.

As expected, there are still a few kinks to work out, including 100 teacher vacancies throughout the district.

“I’m pretty confident in Wake County schools. We’ve had that in the past,” said Mello. “I’ve had the experience of my child not having a teacher, but they surely find somebody quick.”

Even with 100 positions not filled, the district says that it still has 99 percent of its staff covered, which is better than in previous years. Vacant positions will be covered by substitute teachers.