Wake County has a new student assignment plan, but questions remain for parents who pushed back against a proposal to open a new elementary school on a traditional calendar.
Wake’s school board approved an assignment plan Tuesday that will move hundreds of students for the 2018-19 academic year, mostly to fill four new schools.
School board members decided not to include in the plan the new Buckhorn Creek Elementary School in Holly Springs. They said they will talk more about the school next week, marking a temporary reprieve for parents who want the school to have a year-round calendar.
The debate could set the tone for year-round schools throughout Wake County as the board decides whether to focus more on traditional-calendar schools.
On Tuesday, board members wanted to know if there was a way to alleviate parents’ unhappiness about Buckhorn Creek, which would enroll 84 percent of students from year-round schools.
“Is there a way for us to open Buckhorn Creek as a traditional-calendar school and move into it children from traditional-calendar schools now?” board member Bill Fletcher asked.
Board member Roxie Cash said she wondered if Buckhorn Creek could have a traditional calendar with an application process for families.
“If we build it, they may come,” Cash said. “Buckhorn is going to get enough traditional (students) from an application, and a lot of them will be coming out of multi-track (schools), so they may just fall where they’re supposed to.”
Many reassigned students will fill four new schools: Bryan Road Elementary in Garner, South Garner High, Apex Friendship Middle and Buckhorn Creek.
Like other school districts across North Carolina, Wake is grappling with new state-mandated class-size requirements for elementary schools. Starting in the 2018-19 school year, the average K-3 class will have 17 students – down from a 21-student average last year.
Fletcher said the new law means Wake will lose seats in all the schools it’s built in the last five years.
“The class-size (mandate) is consuming that much of our space,” he said.
The board on Tuesday also voted to lift the enrollment cap at Apex Middle School and Enloe High School, but it agreed to add or continue caps at 20 schools. Wake uses enrollment caps to shift the burden of growth onto new families rather than existing ones.
Wake’s school system is expected to grow by 2,846 students a year over the next seven years.
New enrollment caps are now in place for Reedy Creek Middle School, Rogers Lane Elementary School, Scotts Ridge Elementary School and Wendell Elementary School.
The following schools will keep their enrollment caps:
▪ Baileywick Elementary
▪ Carpenter Elementary
▪ Cedar Fork Elementary
▪ Combs Elementary
▪ Fuquay-Varina Elementary
▪ Harris Creek Elementary
▪ Holly Grove Elementary
▪ Mills Park Elementary
▪ Olive Chapel Elementary
▪ Sycamore Creek Elementary
▪ Vance Elementary
▪ Willow Springs Elementary
▪ Mills Park Middle
▪ Fuquay-Varina High
▪ Heritage High
▪ Panther Creek High
Also on Tuesday, the board unanimously re-elected Monika Johnson-Hostler as chairwoman. Jim Martin was unanimously elected as vice chairman, replacing Christine Kushner.
To find out if your child has a new school assignment, go to www.wcpss.net/enrollmentproposal.
Pressley Baird: 919-829-4635; Twitter: @PressleyBaird