Some parents who live near the Heritage community say they don’t want the Wake County school board to reassign students from Heritage High to Rolesville High.
More than 330 parents have signed an online petition that opposes part of the first draft of the 2016 student assignment plan.
Under the proposal, students who currently attend Rolesville Middle School would be assigned to Rolesville High instead of Heritage High. School leaders say they don’t know how many students would be affected.
Some parents say they don’t want their children to have longer bus rides and they question whether Rolesville High is a step down from Heritage. They also say the change isn’t in line with creating neighborhood schools.
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“We’ve invested a lot of our heart and time and money into Heritage that’s made Heritage what it is today,” said Christine Norman, who created the petition on change.org. One of her sons is a senior at Heritage High and another son is an eighth-grader at Rolesville Middle.
The Wake County school system is accepting comments about the proposed assignment plan in an online forum. The Heritage reassignment issue has almost 100 posts.
The school board will hear comments from parents after the second draft of the assignment proposal is presented Oct. 6. There will also be community meetings.
The change would ease overcrowding at Heritage High, which opened in 2010 and is at 116 percent capacity. School leaders say it would also help fill Rolesville High, which opened in 2012 and is at 51 percent capacity.
The neighborhoods that would be reassigned include Stonegate, Deer Chase and Carriage Run, just outside the sprawling Heritage community. The school system considered reassigning the same neighborhoods three years ago and parents created a petition then, too.
The neighborhoods are about two miles from Heritage High and about seven miles from Rolesville High, so some students would likely have longer bus rides.
Along with distance, many parents said they were concerned Rolesville High School doesn’t offer the same opportunities as Heritage.
“The proposal of rezoning us to Rolesville High School is not a lateral move for our children,” Norman wrote in the online forum. “Heritage is a much higher performing, more established institution.”
Last school year, 65.9 percent of Heritage High School students tested proficient, according to data from the state Department of Public Instruction. The school received an overall B grade, which measures proficiency and growth.
At Rolesville High, 46.6 percent of students tested proficient and the school received a D grade.
Parents also said they thought Heritage offered more advanced classes and after-school activities than Rolesville. Rolesville High will continue to add classes and programs as enrollment increases, said Wake County schools spokesman Matt Dees.
Some parents said reassigning students who live near Heritage suggests that Wake isn’t making neighborhood schools a priority.
Tom Benton, who represents Wake Forest on the school board, said the county wants to focus on stability and establishing long-term solutions to keep schools appropriately enrolled.
“We do appreciate the concerns the neighborhoods close to Heritage have,” Benton said.
But, he said, some students will have to be reassigned from Heritage High.
Jim Thompson, a member of the Wake Forest Board of Commissioners, wrote in an email to Benton on Sept. 1 that the proposed change is why the district should focus more on neighborhood schools.
“This plan doesn’t really make much sense and it is really disrupting the community feel in Wake Forest,” Thompson wrote.
In 2012, parents appealed to former Wake school board member John Tedesco, who advocated for neighborhood schools. The Republican-led board created policies to assign students to schools near where they live.
When Democrats took control of the board in 2013, they didn’t make significant changes to the policies.
Now some parents near Heritage say school leaders are moving further away from neighborhood schools, at least in their part of the county.
“As usual WCPSS has no concept of neighborhood schools,” Kevin Murphy wrote in the online forum. “WCPSS wonders about parental participation in their schools but your crazy redistribution of kids makes it impossible for families to be involved.”