Midtown Raleigh News

Mobile campuses in North Raleigh attract few students

Question marks surround the immediate future of Abbotts Creek and Richland Creek elementary schools after round one of the new student assignment plan left Richland Creek with a dozen students for next year and Abbotts Creek with four.

Both schools will open eventually to keep up with growth in the northern half of the county. They are currently set to open next year on the county’s two mobile-unit campuses, but administrators say their opening could be delayed depending on the results of the final round of school selection.

The current numbers are based on the new choice-based student assignment plan, which allows parents to list their top schools for their child to attend. The two schools’ low numbers are a result of the slim number of parents who put either in the top two spots.

“With any modular campus, it’s a little more of a hard sell,” said Judy Peppler, chief transformation officer for Wake schools. “As a parent, a brick and mortar school is typically going to be more attractive.”

If either location is deemed unnecessary for this year, the families who chose that school will be notified in time to plan for next school year, Peppler said.

Delayed opening of either campus wouldn’t necessarily cause overcrowding, Peppler said. There are 1,400 seats open at elementary schools in the Richland Creek area, and 2,200 around Abbotts Creek. The district is waiting until the close of round two to make a final decision in case of latecomers who didn’t participate in round one.

If the district chooses to open Richland Creek this year, the school will be located at the DuBois Center in Wake Forest. The funding for its permanent campus, set for just off U.S. 1 near the Franklin County line, is part of the unspent 2006 bond money that was recently reallocated for other purposes.

Abbotts Creek would be housed in North Raleigh, next to East Millbrook Middle School. Its permanent campus is slated for the site next to the North Wake Landfill on Durant Road, but there is currently no funding for its construction – the district is banking on the next bond issue.

First-round choice results were announced Friday. The second round of student assignment closes April 9. Results will be announced April 20. Officials will make their decision after that, Peppler said.

It’s a unique situation to Massachusetts-based consultant Michael Alves, one of the key figures behind Wake’s new “controlled choice” plan, who has helped introduce similar school assignment plans in other school systems.

“One thing Wake has done really well is the tremendous transparency in information that’s been made available,” Alves said. “The question is going to come down to if it is really viable to go forward and house those children in mobile classrooms.”