Magnet school themes stressing foreign languages, leadership skills, technology and courses for academically gifted students are among the ways that Wake County school leaders hope to lure families to five under-enrolled Raleigh schools next year.
School administrators unveiled to a school board committee Thursday themes that will be offered in the 2013-14 school year at three North Raleigh schools Fox Road and Green elementary schools and Carroll Middle School that are joining the magnet school program. Revised themes were also unveiled for two Raleigh schools Poe Elementary and Moore Square Middle where the old magnet programs havent attracted a sufficient number of students.
We looked at popular themes that parents want, said Beth Cochran, the school systems senior director of magnet programs.
Since 1982, Wake Countys magnet school program has been one of its main tools for promoting diversity. Most of the magnet schools are located inside the Raleigh Beltline and offer unique academic programs to attract suburban applicants.
In September, the school board voted to apply for $10 million to $12 million in federal dollars to expand the magnet program. Those five schools were chosen for their low test scores, high concentrations of low-income students and many empty seats.
If Wake doesnt win the federal grant, school leaders will go ahead with the changes at the five schools, although likely at a slower rate using only local dollars.
Fox Road Elementary, located near the Triangle Town Center shopping center, will offer the International Baccalaureate theme, which stresses learning a foreign language and getting students to think with a global perspective.
Green Elementary and Carroll Middle, both located near the North Hills shopping center, would have a leadership theme using Stephen Coveys book The Leader in Me to teach leadership principles.
Green would also have a world languages theme in which students would take a foreign language daily. Cochran said theyre looking at offering Spanish and Chinese.
Carroll would also have a technology theme.
Green and Carroll are centrally located to draw students, said school board member Christine Kushner.
Poe Elementary, on Peyton Street near Poole Road in Southeast Raleigh, and Moore Square Middle, on Person Street in downtown, would offer the Academically Gifted Basics/Gifted & Talented program. All students would pick from hundreds of electives, and those who are identified as academically gifted would be able take reading and math classes with similar children.
Moore Square would keep elements of its current theme in which it works with museums.
Poe would phase out its Montessori program, which stresses hands-on activities and multi-age classes.
Until the 2014-15 school year, Poe will offer Montessori for younger students with those in grades four and five getting the new program. Wake would then relocate the Montessori program to as yet-unidentified school.
Staff has done the hard work, and Im confident in the direction that were going, Kushner said.