The Wake County Board of Education will vote later this month whether to make Hodge Road Elementary School a magnet school next academic year, opening up a new dual Spanish lanugage immersion program to students across the county.
Deputy Superintendent for School Performance Cathy Moore said even though Hodge Road isn’t even through its first year in the immersion program, the county saw there was a market for that kind of programming and establishing a magnet creates seats for students outside Hodge Road’s attendance zone.
According to staff reports presented to the board at their latest work session, Hodge Road would be a “Group 3” magnet school, meaning the majority of magnet students would still be within the school’s regular base attendance zone.
Wake County Public Schools staff also noted there would be limited express busing to Hodge Road, should it become a magnet.
Becoming a magnet is what Hodge Road principal Debra Pearce hoped would happen once the program got on its feet. Currently, 48 Hodge Road kindergartners have alternating days of instruction in English and Spanish.
They will continue that throughout their six years at Hodge Road.
At the beginning of the school year in August, Pearce said she heard from many interested parents outside Hodge Road’s base attendance zone, but had to instruct them to wait. Only students who would normally attend the school could participate in the dual immersion program this year.
At that time, Pearce said she hoped the program would eventually be designated a magnet school, fulfilling one of the major suggestions the Knightdale Area Education Work Group made to the county in March.
The group, tasked with identifying and making suggestions to solve some of the problems Knightdale schools seemed to encounter, said a magnet could retain higher performing students while also answering specific needs of the students.
The county dedicated $44,000 to launch Hodge Road’s program and a Chinese language immersion program at Stough Elementary in Cary this academic year.
It is estimated magnetizing Hodge Road (and Stough) will cost $44,950 more a year at each school.
Part of that will go toward a salary for a magnet coordinator. Pearce and Hodge Road assistant principal Jacqueline Grant would both receive a 2 percent pay raise if the school becomes a magnet.
County staff also suggested making magnet pathways at Daniels Middle School and Broughton High School in Raleigh. Jeffreys Grove and Stough elementary schools would feed into Daniels and Broughton, continuing their language immersion programs.
In the staff report, there was no definitive pathway established for Hodge Road immersion students. Staff noted it was “under review” and a new immersion and global studies pathway was being created.
Right now, Knightdale students have three other pathways they can pursue, although they have to leave Knightdale to do that. A leadership, International Baccaleaureate and gifted and talented pathway are all options for students if they go to a school somewhere else in the county.
Eventually, immersion will become a pathway option and Hodge Road will be assigned feeder schools like Jeffreys Grove and Stough have.
At the work session, staff suggested the Knightdale Area Education Work Group discuss options for that pathway. Moore said after hearing those suggestions, there will be a better idea of whether immersion feeder schools will be in Knightdale or somewhere else in the county.