Guide: Wake County Schools

March 10, 2010 

Wake County operates a fast-growing school system that is on track to be the largest in the state and one of the 20 largest in the nation. The system, which has a $1.1 billion operating budget, has received national recognition for its diversity program, which is designed to ensure that schools have an even distribution of wealthy and less-affluent school children.

The system has 154 schools: 96 elementaries, 30 middle, 24 high schools and four alternative schools. See Wake County Schools for a complete directory.

The system has schools on a traditional calendar in which students have the summer off. It also has year-round schools, which split students into four groups or "tracks." The tracks are set up so that at any given time, three of the tracks are in school and one track is on break. Students on year-round schedules are in school for 45 days and then off for 15.

The district last year was about 54 percent white, 27 percent African American and 10 percent Hispanic or Latino, according to Wake schools data. Diversity is increasing. See Wake County Demographics for detailed information.

Wake's schools are well-regarded, and the quality of the school system has been a leading factor in Wake County's booming growth. By the 10th day of the traditional school calendar in 2007, Wake's enrollment was 133,715. That number was 5,643 more students than the system's 2006 enrollment.

Growing Pains

Rapid growth has been a major issue for school officials. In 2006, the school board approved a plan to convert 22 schools to a year-round calendar. The plan was designed to allow the schools to handle a spike in enrollment — year round schools can hold more students since they are in constant use. The plan was based on an expected 8,000 new students for the 2006-2007 school year. By the 10th day of the year, Wake's enrollment numbers seemed well below that number.

The plan was controversial. A parent group sued the district and a judge ruled in May 2007 that school officials could not force a child to attend a year-round school. Most parents with children in year-round schools elected to stay put. But enough pulled out — 3,000 or so — that principals at traditional-calendar schools felt a crunch.

Leadership

In 2006, the Board of Education named as superintendent Del Burns, a former special education teacher, principal and long-time administrator in Wake. Burns works for the nine-member school board.

Board members are elected from districts to staggered, four-year terms.

Wake County Board Members

Board District Maps

Board meetings are held at the system's Administration Building, 3600 Wake Forest Road in Raleigh.

Opportunities for public comment are provided through a public hearing at the beginning of each regular board meeting for items on the agenda, and at the end for items not on the agenda. Each participant is given three minutes to address the board.

Key Links

Lunch Menus

Before- and After- School Programs

Forms, Applications and Other Paper Work

School Report Cards — Find out how your child's school is performing.

Teacher Working Conditions — What do teachers say about their school?

State ABC's Test Results — see how your child's school did on state-mandated tests.

Who Do I Call?

Most questions can be answered by staff at your child's school. View a directory of schools. You can also call the district's Customer Service Center at 919-850-1600.

Charter Schools

There are several charter schools in Wake County. Charter schools receive public funding, but operate outside the public education system. The Charter schools are:

Community Partners Charter High School — Holly Springs
Casa Esperanza Montessori Charter School — Raleigh
East Wake Academy — Wendell
Endeavor Charter School — Raleigh
Exploris Middle School
— Raleigh
Franklin Academy — Wake Forest
Magellan Charter School — Raleigh
Torchlight Academy — Raleigh
PreEminent Institute of Learning — Raleigh
Quest Academy — Raleigh
Raleigh Charter High School — Raleigh
SPARC Academy — Raleigh
Sterling Montessori Academy — Morrisville.
Hope Elementary School — Raleigh

Private Schools

There are more than 50 religious and independent private schools in Wake, offering instruction for students in grades K-12. Here is a list by county, maintained by the state Department of Administration, the Division of Non-Public Education.

Home Schools

There are more than 3,200 registered homeschools in Wake County. The state has established requirements for parents or guardians who intend to home school their children.

State of N.C. Home School Information

To learn more about Wake County's schools, you can go here for a wide range of resources. Go to the WakeEd blog for the latest on the county's schools.

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service