Wake parents can go online Monday to change schools

khui@newsobserver.comFebruary 17, 2013 

  • For details

    Go to http://tinyurl.com/anr6qgf for more information on the Wake County school system’s first transfer application period.

Parents will get their first chance Monday to request school transfers for next fall, using Wake County’s revamped system.

This new “first transfer application period” is the school system’s effort to meet some families’ requests to remain in the kindergarten-to-graduation path they had under the now-discarded choice plan and to give all families a range of options. The system is returning to an address-based plan.

Through March 1, families can go to www.wcpss.net to request as many as five different schools they’d like to attend for the 2013-14 school year.

Wake is only guaranteeing that some of those requests will be honored.

And there are also some noticeable differences between the new approach and the former choice plan. For instance, all the options in the choice plan included bus service. But that option won’t be provided for many of the schools families will request in the new transfer period.

Continuing changes in the assignment plan since 2009 have been the result of shifts of political power between the Republican board that took power in 2009 and who devised the choice plan, and the Democratic majority members elected in 2011, who are changing back to an address-based system with diversity included as a factor in assigning.

We’ll try to explain how the first transfer application period works to get families prepared. Just keep in mind that if you’re happy with the initial assignment notice you received in January, you don’t have to do anything else.

Q. Who will take part in the first transfer application period?

Four main groups are expected to apply over the next two weeks:

• One group consists of people who will be applying to a “calendar-option school.” Families whose address-determined or “base” school is on a traditional calendar can apply to as many as two designated year-round schools. Those assigned to year-round schools can apply to two traditional-calendar schools. Those who are accepted are eligible for bus service.

• A second group will be people applying to any non-magnet school that they’d like to attend. Those accepted aren’t likely to get bus service.

• A third group will apply for the feeder pattern middle school or high school they would have attended under the choice plan. Transportation isn’t guaranteed.

• A fourth group will consist of families who want students to attend their “base school,” which is the one assigned to their address, instead of the school they now attend.

Those families could have applied during the Jan. 7-14 “base-declaration period” when all 1,159 requests were approved. Student assignment staff members are making no guarantee of approval for families who apply to their base school during the transfer period.

Q. How many kinds of applications are there?

There will be two applications families can pick from. Families can request a calendar-option application or a transfer application. If you submit both applications, the calendar application is considered first and takes priority.

Q. How are the transfer requests approved?

If there are more applicants than seats at a school, assignment staff will place students using a list of eight ranked priorities.

People in the top two priorities only are guaranteed approval. One top priority group includes incoming kindergarten, sixth-, and ninth-grade siblings of current non-base students who want to go to school together. The second group is current students who were reassigned for the 2013-14 school year to one of the three new schools but who want to stay where they are, even though it means they’ll lose bus service.

The lower-ranked priorities include students who want to attend a middle school that’s on the same calendar as their elementary school, students who want the same calendar as their siblings, students leaving severely overcrowded schools and students who want their choice-plan feeder school, the one they had under the former plan.

Q. Can I file a transfer request to attend a magnet school?

Families whose magnet applications were rejected can’t use the first transfer application period as a backdoor into the school. But assignment staff say families won’t lose their spot on the magnet school waiting list if they apply for a transfer.

Two groups can apply to a magnet school during the first transfer period. One group consists of families who have a student already attending a magnet school and who want a sibling to also go there. Those people should have applied during the magnet application period in January.

The second group consists of people who want to go to their base school that also is a magnet school.

Q. What year-round track will I get?

Most of Wake’s year-round schools operate on a multi-track calendar, meaning students are split into four groups called tracks with different schedules.

Families applying for a year-round school will be asked to rank the four tracks when they submit their online application. There’s no guarantee that families will get their top choices, especially if they are new to the year-round program.

If you’re a moving from one year-round school to another, school officials say all efforts will be made to honor the existing track. But it’s not guaranteed that you’ll keep the track.

In mid-March, families will find out which track they’ll get.

School officials say track assignments are made at the school and are done with consideration to parent input, siblings, grade level scheduling, and mandatory class size limits.

Q. What happens after transfer applications are submitted?

Families will find out their application results March 8. Those who are accepted can’t decline. The accepted choice becomes the student’s new assignment for this fall, and successful applicants will lose their seats at their current schools.

Rejections can’t be appealed. But those rejected will be put on the waiting list for their first-choice school.

Students will be placed into schools from the wait lists in mid-April and mid-June. The wait lists will be dissolved after the second round of placements in mid-June. Parents can remove their students from the wait list if they have decided to keep their current assignment.

Families will receive an official notice of their 2013-14 assignments May 1. This will open up a final transfer application period from May 1 to May 15. If those requests are rejected by assignment staff, the decision can be appealed to the school board.

Hui: 919-829-4534

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