Wake County Schools

Wake County school system drafting agreement for high school in RTP

Posted September 16, 2021 3:25 p.m. EDT
Updated September 16, 2021 3:35 p.m. EDT

Wake Tech sign, Wake Technical Community College

— A computer science-focused early college high school is in the works in Wake County.

The Wake County Public School System is drafting an agreement with Wake Technical Community College for the system’s first high school in Morrisville and the Research Triangle Park.

It would add a seventh early college school in the district.

The school district has expanded specialized programming at both base and magnet schools as its enrollment is projected to stagnate and nearby charter school enrollment rises.

Superintendent Cathy Moore told the Wake County Board of Education this week she plans to have the agreement ready for the board’s first meeting in October and will likely recommend approval.

Districts must also apply at the state level to open an early college high school, per the Cooperative Innovative High School state statute.

The school district already has six early colleges, three of them as a result of partnerships with Wake Tech.

The Wake Early College of Health and Sciences is on Wake Tech’s Perry Health Sciences Campus, and its students can also take courses at Scott Northern Wake Campus.

Two career and technical education high schools — Vernon Malone College and Career Academy and North Wake College and Career Academy — operate in partnership with the college.

The proposed high school would be on Wake Tech’s RTP Campus.

Early colleges are popular in Wake County and record high achievement levels.

For the 2018-2019 school year, applications at three of the early college high schools exceeded the overall enrollment capacity for all grades at those schools. Four-year graduation rates exceeded 95% among those who graduated this spring.

District leaders first presented the plan for the Research Triangle Park high school to the board during a Student Achievement Committee meeting in November 2019. At the time, leaders anticipated opening the school in the fall of 2021.

The presentation suggested possible courses in computer programming, cybersecurity, analytics, cloud computing and biotechnology.

North Carolina was home to 132 “cooperative innovative high schools” as of August 2020, per the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. Of those, 116 partner with a community college.

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