On Tuesday, the Wake County school board officially approved East Wake High School’s consolidation under one name.
Instead of four small schools, East Wake High School would be under one administration, its new singular name being the first of several steps to unify the school.
Eastern Area Superintendent Dr. Edward McFarland said his office is already sending out weekly emails to the staff, and held an initial staff information and input meeting Monday.
Current essential programming and teaching positions will remain in place until June 2016, he said. The four current principals will remain on campus until July 1 of this year when a newly hired principal will take over.
“This school has been an experimental model for 10 years now. It’s a model that has been extremely challenging...not just in our state but across the nation,” said Tom Benton, the school board vice chair who represents District 1 and East Wake High School.
He added that the change is unique because it’s not just converting back to the former tradition high school model, but it’s creating a different alternative and keeping the best practices and programs from the small schools.
The school would also “look for new and different ways to provide ... the type of education that will make them successful,” Benton said.
The goal of renaming the school, officials say, was largely a techical one. Each of the four small schools has its own state identification number and school status. Renaming the school allows Wake County to use just a single ID.
Since the split into small schools 10 years ago, EWHS had found that the initial goals for the split had not been accomplished, including student performance and demographic equity across schools.
Other steps forward
During the last week of January, the school’s annual eighth-grade fair for rising freshmen to look at each of the four schools’ offerings was cancelled.
In terms of moving forward, a community work group has started to form, and will hold its first meeting on Feb. 18.
As one of the planning strategies, the work group that would integrate local leaders, parents and staff from the schools will assist in the research and discussion of high school model alternatives to be implemented at East Wake. They will have a K-12 focus, McFarland said.
If approved by the school board, a three-phase plan would unfold for teachers and students over the next four and a half years beginning next fall.
The first phase would is expected to begin this month and carry until June 2015.
It will include the hiring of a new principal, planning for a comprehensive high school next year under one administration and the work group, as well as starting the physical redesign of the school over the summer.
From July 2015 through August 2016, staff would plan to start with the redesigned model. The class of 2016 will be able to finish out their curriculum, but will be the last ones under the small school system.
The last phase will consist of a heavily supported new school over three years. East Wake will likely be dependent on Wake County’s financial resources or other external resources like staffing before becoming self-sustaining in 2019.