Some Wake County families are happy with the latest proposal to fill schools next year, but many others didn’t get the changes they wanted to keep their children from being moved to a different school in 2019.
Wake County student assignment staff released Tuesday the second draft of a plan to fill schools for the 2019-20 school year. The student assignment plan included some changes parents wanted made to the first draft, but staff said that due to the district’s growth and overcrowding they couldn’t accommodate some requested changes.
“We’re opening new schools,” said Glenn Carrozza, Wake’s senior director of student assignment. “We need to fill those schools and a lot of times we’re opening schools in areas that are overcrowded.”
Parents can provide public comment online at wcpss.net/enrollmentproposal. More than 1,600 comments have been posted on the district’s online forum since the first draft was released Aug. 21.
Student assignment staff say they will consider the next round of public comments, including those given at public hearings next week, before a third and final draft is presented Oct. 16. The school board could approve the plan Nov. 20.
Much of the plan involves filling four new schools: Green Level High and Alston Ridge Middle in Cary, Parkside Elementary in Morrisville and Southeast Raleigh Elementary. The plan also recommends opening Alston Ridge Middle and Parkside Elementary on a year-round calendar instead of on a traditional calendar.
The outcry against the plan has been particularly vocal in western Wake, a fast-growing part of the county where many of the moves are slated to take place. Parents and students have asked not to be moved to schools that are further from home.
“No one is happy with this reassignment,” Arati Kirtikar, a parent, told school board members Tuesday. “We are all being shuffled around so the achievement gap is evened out. Not bettered but averaged out.”
The winners on Tuesday included those who supported:
▪ Moving part of Poe Elementary School’s attendance area to Southeast Raleigh Elementary.
▪ Keeping the Westport at Twin Lakes, Addison Park, Ridgemont & northern portion of Savannah subdivisions at Cedar Fork Elementary School and West Cary Middle School.
▪ Moving the downtown Raleigh area assigned to Turner Creek Elementary School in Cary to the much closer Conn Elementary, Centennial Middle & Southeast Raleigh High next year instead of waiting until 2020.
But the most vocal groups lobbying for changes haven’t gotten, for now at least, what they wanted.
Staff still want to move the Evans Farm, Carpenter Village, Indian Wells and Breckenridge communities in Cary to Alston Ridge Middle. Carrozza said that the moves are needed to relieve crowding at schools such as Mills Park Middle School.
Families in the Mills Park community have lobbied to keep schools on a traditional calendar. School board member Roxie Cash said that she can’t see why the Mills Park schools aren’t on a year-round calendar, which can increase how many students are in the building.
“You can’t have stability, proximity and choose your calendar in a high-growth area,” Cash said.
The plan also still includes the recommendation that families assigned to Parkside Elementary who want to stay on the traditional calendar will need to apply to attend Powell Elementary School, located more than 20 miles away in Raleigh. Carrozza said they may consider also offering students the option of applying to Pleasant Grove Elementary in Cary as long as families provide their own transportation.
Staff also still recommend moving some neighborhoods out of overcrowded Green Hope High School in Cary to Apex High School. Families have complained that Apex High is further away and that it will take away their ability to use a greenway to walk and bike to school.
School board vice chairman Jim Martin said that the district can’t require people to use greenways. This means, he said, that they’re not necessarily saving money by running fewer school buses.
”We want to encourage biking and walking to school, but we can’t use a mythical possibility for our student assignment,” Martin said.
Student assignment staff are also still recommending moving the Cameron Pond neighborhood in Cary to Carpenter Elementary and Alston Ridge Middle and moving several neighborhoods from Davis Drive Middle in Cary to East Cary Middle. But Carrozza said they’re reviewing information provided by parents from both groups and could recommend changes in the next draft.
“We’re very focused on talking about solutions and not the emotions,” Brandon Bryce, whose child could be moved to East Cary, said to the school board.