Wake County Schools

Wake school board gets second draft of assignment plan

Posted October 7, 2014 4:58 p.m. EDT
Updated October 7, 2014 11:24 p.m. EDT

— The Wake County Board of Education on Tuesday got a look at a second draft of a new student assignment plan aimed, in part, at filling three new schools for the 2015-16 school year.

The proposal, which would affect 36 elementary schools, 16 middle schools and 11 high schools, also continues goals of tightening up student assignments, using school proximity and aligning school calendars so that students remain on the same school calendar from elementary to high school.

Many of the changes to the second draft, school system staff told the board, were in response to parental feedback received through meetings, online comments and emails.

"We are working hard to keep neighborhoods together and make changes that make sense," board Chairwoman Christine Kushner said.

Not all feedback requests, however, were granted, staff said, because doing so would have created efficiency issues or the changes were not positively supported by data.

It's still unclear how many students would be affected by the updated enrollment plan. In many cases, officials said, parents can keep students in their current school.

"There is no way to tell how many students will be moving," Deputy Superintendent Cathy Moore said.

The same growth driving assignment could drive future budget problems.

Board members passed a 2014-15 budget that they say fills funding gaps while protecting the classroom. That vote should have happened last spring, but members said they had to wait for the state budget to be delivered.

"They are giving money with this hand and taking money with this hand," board member Tom Benton said.

A new rule from the General Assembly could make budgeting next year even harder, they said, because it no longer links increased funding to increased student numbers.

"We are looking at legislation that is not guaranteeing additional funding for next school year," Benton said.

The new assignment plan draft is online for parents to preview and comment on. Four public meetings have also been planned:

  • Wake Forest High School, Oct. 9, 6:30 p.m.
  • Wake Forest High School, Oct. 14, 6:30 p.m.
  • Millbrook High School, Oct. 16, 6:30 p.m.
  • Southeast High School, date and time to be determined

A third draft is expected to go before the board votes on a final plan in December.

The proposal, the fourth in recent years, comes as the school system – the largest in the state – is expecting an 11 percent increase, or 18,615 students, by 2018. That number would bring enrollment to 171,915.