Two recent stories in the news this week offer an interesting glimpse into the cause and effect of growth.
In one news item, it was reported that Wake County is the fastest growing county in the state and that the Wake County metro area, which includes Wake, Johnston and Franklin counties, was the 15th fastest growing region in the nation.
The other news items reported the need to redistribute Title I funding in Wake County schools. That redistribution is taking place because the number of students considered low-income under the old standard had grown so much there wasn’t enough Title I money to serve them all.
Title I is a federally-funding program designed to provide extra resources to schools that serve a large number of low-income students. In order to properly serve as many students as they can, the Wake schools administration is raising the threshhold schools must reach to be eligible for funding. Now schools must have 45 percent of their student body considered low-income. That number used to be 35 percent.
Never miss a local story.
This should serve as an object lesson for us all. While it is nice to see growth in our region, and our economy depends in some measure on having growth, it’s not possible to control the wealth of that growth.
We read reports on a fairly regular basis about the new company that will set up shop in Wake County and bring with it jobs that pay a high average salary. That makes us feel good about the direction we are headed. Less discussed is the number of people and families who move here because they have nowhere else to live and family here can help them, or public transportation systems can help them get to and from work.
The Wake County school system is being forced to take steps they would probably rather not take to address a growing need. Wake County commissioners – and municipal governments throughout the county – have the job of preparing for growth and all its many demands, from more and bigger roadways and increased funding for schools to larger, more robust parks and recreation offerings.
Waiting to deal with those needs until they arrive can result in less-than-favorable changes like decreasing Title I funding to schools where that money was doing some good.