It’s time for Wake parents to make school plans for next fall

Through Jan. 14, students can request a spot at ‘base’ school

khui@newsobserver.comJanuary 6, 2013 

Monday marks the start of two important events for Wake County parents who are making plans for where they want their children to go to school this fall.

Starting Monday and running through Jan. 14, students who aren’t going to the school assigned to their address can request a spot at that school for the 2013-14 school year. This so-called “base declaration period” is in place because the school board voted in December to scrap the choice-based student assignment plan in favor of returning to tying addresses to specific schools.

Also starting Monday, families can register their children for kindergarten for the upcoming school year. Families can’t participate in the magnet school application period that starts Jan. 14 unless they’re registered with the district.

If you’re not sure where your children are slated to go to school this fall, check with your kids when they get home from school Monday. If you didn’t get the notice last week, your children will bring home a sheet listing where they’re initially slated to go to school for the 2013-14 school year. We’ll try to explain how the base declaration period and kindergarten registration works to get you prepared.

Base schools

Every address in Wake County has an elementary school, middle school and high school assigned to it. Those are called the base schools.

For various reasons, thousands of Wake students are not going to their base school. Some students applied to attend a more-distant magnet school. Some students got a transfer to go to a different school. Some students didn’t get the school they wanted during the choice process used for this school year.

For those who want to get back to their base school, there’s the base declaration period.

Applying for the base school

To request assignment to a base school, parents must submit an application online through the district’s website, www.wcpss.net. Parents must have their child’s NC WISE identification number. Families who’ve lost the number can contact their child’s school.

Parents may also visit their base school or the student’s current school for assistance with submitting an online application.

Other application nuances

All students entering kindergarten, sixth-grade or ninth-grade this fall will automatically be assigned to their base school.

But if you want to stay on in the magnet program for sixth- or ninth-grade this fall, you’ll need to submit a magnet application whose approval is all but certain.

Also, if you’d rather go to the feeder middle school or high school that you would have gotten under the choice plan, you’ll need to apply during the first transfer period. Approval is not guaranteed since it’s contingent upon the school having space to take you.

Chances of success

The school district is guaranteeing approval of base school requests unless the family is requesting a school that has reached its maximum capacity and is fully capped. Most schools won’t be capped for this fall.

But even if a school is capped, school assignment staff say they expect to honor most, if not all, of those requests, too.

The school board voted last month to cap 13 schools for the rest of this school year. But Laura Evans, senior director of student assignment, said the cap they’re talking about in the base declaration period only refers to the 2013-14 school year, and no schools have been added to that list yet.

Evans said they’ll recommend which schools should be fully capped once they see how many requests come in during the base declaration period. But even if some schools are fully capped, Evans said the school system will make every effort to seat students who make the request this week to return to their base school.

“My goal is to try to seat everybody,” Evans said. “My goal is not to tell people they can’t be seated.”

Evans said existing students returning to base would get priority over people who haven’t yet moved into the district. But Evans said the district won’t be as able to accommodate requests as easily if families miss the Jan. 14 filing deadline.

Set for kindergarten

If your child will be 5 years old by Aug. 31, you can register for kindergarten at your base elementary school. Go to wwwgis2.wcpss.net/addressLookup/ to find out your base school.

Go to www.wcpss.net/parents/kindergarten/ for complete registration information, including a list of what documents to bring.

On Feb. 7, many elementary schools will host open houses, tours or information sessions to allow parents of new kindergartners to learn more about their schools and enroll.

What’s next

After this week, families will find out Jan. 21 whether their base declaration request has been approved.

From Jan. 14 to 25, families can apply to attend magnet schools, early colleges and the two single-sex leadership academies. Results will be distributed Feb. 8.

From Feb. 18 to March 1, Wake will hold its new “first transfer application period.” During this period, families can request assignment to their calendar option school, which is a school selected by Wake that has a different calendar than the base school. Transportation to that school is provided.

Families also can request any other school, but transportation is not provided. Rejections can’t be appealed.

Some of these requests will automatically be approved, such as a currently enrolled student who doesn’t want to accept reassignment or a rising kindergarten, sixth- or ninth-grader who wants to go to the same school as an older sibling.

On May 1, students will receive their official notice of 2013-14 school assignment. Families who still aren’t satisfied can file during the final transfer application period that runs from May 1-15. Rejected requests can be appealed to the school board.

Hui: 919-829-4534

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