Student assignment is changing yet again in the Wake County school system, with a switch next year to a plan that returns to linking every address with an assignment to a specific school.
Supporters of the new plan argue it’s the best of both worlds, offering every student a base school while providing choice and allowing every student to stay at their current school. The Democratic-majority board voted Tuesday to abandon a choice-based plan, in effect this year, adopted by their Republican-led predecessor panel last year.
Here’s an explanation of what parents can anticipate as they figure out where their children will go for the 2013-14 school year.
Notice of School Assignment
Between Jan. 2-7, every student will get a slip listing his or her initial assignment for the 2013-14 school year. Wake will assume students will continue at their current schools unless they live at an address reassigned to three new schools in northeastern Wake: Rolesville High, Rolesville Middle and Richland Creek Elementary. Students entering sixth and ninth grades next year will be initially assigned to the middle or high school tied to their addresses.
Beginning Jan. 7, parents can register their children for kindergarten for the 2013-14 school year. In a change from the choice plan, families won’t have to go to school system headquarters to register. They can instead go to the school assigned to their address.
Families will need to register before they can take part in transfer and magnet application periods.
Base declaration period
Many students, such as those who applied to attend a magnet school, aren’t at the school assigned to their address, called their base school. Between Jan. 7-14, those students can request to go to the base school for the 2013-14 school year. Students will be allowed back if there’s space. Families will find out the results by Jan. 21.
Magnet application period
Between Jan. 14-25, families can apply to attend a magnet school, an early college high school or one of the single-sex leadership academies.
Magnet students entering sixth and ninth grades will have to apply to stay in the magnet program.
Ten percent of the magnet seats will be filled in a random lottery. The other seats will be filled using a priority system with the top priority going to students entering kindergarten and to sixth- or ninth-graders who want to be in the same school as an older sibling.
High priority will also be given to applicants coming from high-performing areas or leaving crowded schools.
Families will find out the results by Feb. 8.
First transfer period
Between Feb. 18-March 1, families can request their calendar-option school, with transportation provided, or any other school that has space, but with no bus service.
Calendar-option schools are those on the opposite calendar from the student’s base school. For instance, families assigned to a traditional-calendar school can apply to a designated year-round school and vice versa.
If there are more applicants than openings, a weighted priority system will be used. Top priority goes to students entering kindergarten, sixth and ninth grade who want to be in the same school as an older sibling.
The second priority goes to students who want to stay at their current school instead of being reassigned to one of the three new schools. Wake guarantees these transfers will be approved, but says that families who receive them will lose bus service for next year.
Students whose addresses are reassigned to a school other than the three new ones don’t have to request a transfer as they’ll be assumed to want to stay at the school they’re attending this year. They also get to keep their bus service.
Families of rising sixth- and ninth-graders can request the school they would have gone to under the choice plan. Approval is not guaranteed.
Rejections from the first transfer period can’t be appealed.
Final transfer period
On May 1, families will receive official notification of their 2013-14 school assignment. Families who want to go elsewhere can apply during the final transfer period that runs from May 1-15. Any requests rejected by school assignment staff can be appealed to the school board.