Peace College offers to house Wake academies

Wake could open boys and girls schools next year at William Peace.

tgoldsmith@newsobserver.comNovember 2, 2011 

— William Peace University is poised to forge an alliance with Wake County schools to bring Wake's new boys and girls leadership academies to its Peace Street campus near downtown, Superintendent Tony Tata said Tuesday.

The single-sex academies are part of the recently adopted student assignment plan and are designed to create future leaders through "team cohesiveness, academic rigor and personal attention," system officials said.

Tata said an initial proposal that students would take part in a JROTC program is being modified to affect ninth-grade students only.

The single-sex leadership academies could open next fall under a memorandum of understanding between Wake County and Peace to establish an early college campus, Tata said.

"William Peace has moved very quickly to put both of the academies on their campus," Tata said.

Wake County has a history of successful collaborations with colleges and universities, he said. Peace President Deborah Townsley also expressed her enthusiasm for the new venture.

"We support any worthwhile efforts to expand educational opportunities in our community, and I believe this program is deserving of further attention," she said.

The Wake Board of Education will have to approve the arrangement.

Initially, Wake staff had considered the underused schools Longview, River Oaks Middle School and Mary Phillips High School for students displaced by changes involving the academies. The system will continue to examine ways to make better use of those schools and strengthen student services there, Tata said.

Later in the meeting, Tata said the alternative schools in Wake County operate with too much autonomy and will get a thorough review in the next year. The administration will be looking at matters including who is chosen to attend the schools and how curriculum is determined.

The announcement about the leadership academies came during a mostly routine last meeting of the board members who have led the 146,000-student system since 2009, when a Republican majority took office.

The balance of power on the nine-member board could shift, depending on the results of the District 3 runoff Tuesday between incumbent Kevin Hill and challenger Heather Losurdo. A win for Losurdo would maintain the GOP majority; a win by Hill would create a Democratic majority.

Goldsmith: 919-829-8929

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