Wake County school board members dropped a proposal to reassign hundreds of students from Enloe High School to Southeast Raleigh High.
The proposal, designed to reduce overcrowding at Enloe, had been part of a draft assignment plan prepared by school system administrators.
Some Southeast Raleigh parents criticized the original proposal when it was released several weeks ago. They said it could impede efforts to boost Southeast Raleigh’s magnet program and improve the school overall, by straining existing resources.
School board member Keith Sutton recommended removing the proposal from the current draft during a meeting Tuesday, and several other members of the board quickly concurred with his recommendation.
“What we shouldn’t want is for there to be some unintended consequences that could adversely impact efforts that are ongoing to strengthen and support and improve Southeast Raleigh,” said Sutton, who represents the board district that includes both high schools.
He said administrators should look at alternatives, such as an attendance cap at Enloe. A cap could come with its own difficulties, because the students who couldn’t attend Enloe would would have to be assigned elsewhere.
“We’re going to have to be creative ... because the reality is there’s not really another high school that’s in proximity to Enloe other than Southeast,” said school board member Monika Johnson Hostler, who agreed with Sutton.
Sutton said he didn’t expect a solution immediately but more due diligence is needed before any changes are made.
The staff proposal was to shift students who are about the same distance from both schools from Enloe to Southeast Raleigh. The affected area is just outside the Beltline on the southern end of Enloe’s base attendance area.
While both schools have magnet programs, their experiences have been very different. Enloe still has strong magnet demand and a growing base population, but Southeast Raleigh has seen a sharp drop in enrollment and magnet applications.
Board members also asked what efforts are underway to improve Southeast Raleigh’s magnet program.
Cathy Moore, deputy superintendent for school performance, said the board will hear shortly about those plans.
“There is a lot of effort and commitment from the part of the magnet staff and the school staff and the community to increase the magnet numbers at the school,” she said.
Dawn Blagrove, the PTSA advocacy coordinator at Southeast Raleigh High, said parents are encouraged the proposal has been dropped from the final draft.
They worry an influx of potentially hundreds of students could crowd out magnet seats and that the incoming students might strain the school’s already-limited resources, even if Southeast Raleigh has physical space for them.
Blagrove said the test scores at the middle schools in the affected neighborhoods indicate the students likely would arrive with serious academic needs. But she stressed the goal is to make sure all students are getting what they need to succeed, not to keep a group of students out of the school.
“The issue has always been whether those children, and all of our children, are in a school that can meet them where they are and help them progress,” she said.
The board will consider the final draft of the student assignment plan at a Nov. 18 public hearing and a Nov. 25 work session, with a vote on the plan expected Dec. 2.
The final draft could affect as many as 2,734 students, but 1,585 would be eligible for “grandfathering,” in which they could stay at their current school if families have their own transportation. Wake officials said it’s hard to predict how many families would choose grandfathering, but it’s likely to be a sizable portion.
In previous years, the 155,000-student system has reassigned as many as 10,000 students.
The count of affected students does not include rising kindergartners, sixth-graders or ninth-graders because they wouldn’t be switching schools, only attending a different one than they had anticipated, officials said.
The third and final draft represents months of work to develop a proposal that focuses primarily on filling three new schools, reducing crowding at existing schools and reducing the number of families with children on different calendars. The plan mostly affects Apex, North Raleigh and Wake Forest.
T. Keung Hui contributed to this report.