Southwest Wake News

Apex residents march to protest Wake schools student assignment plan

More than two dozen Baucom Elementary students on Nov. 12 protested a Wake County student assignment plan that would make Salem Elementary their new base school. Salem Elementary is on a year-round calendar and is about 2 miles away from the Haddon Hall neighborhood.
More than two dozen Baucom Elementary students on Nov. 12 protested a Wake County student assignment plan that would make Salem Elementary their new base school. Salem Elementary is on a year-round calendar and is about 2 miles away from the Haddon Hall neighborhood. aspecht@newsobserver.com

Shawn and Shanna Shearin like that they can walk their two sons to Baucom Elementary School from Haddon Hall, their neighborhood less than a mile away.

It’s a shaded, 15-minute walk down three streets.

But they worry the commute may not be as convenient when it’s time for their 3-year-old daughter to go to elementary school.

Student assignment planners for the Wake County school system are proposing to change Haddon Hall’s base school from Baucom Elementary, on a traditional calendar, to Salem Elementary, which is on a year-round calendar and is about 2 miles away.

Many Haddon Hall parents want to keep their children at Baucom because it’s close and they prefer the traditional calendar.

To emphasize the school’s proximity and demonstrate their frustration with the school system, the Shearins and more than 50 other residents carried homemade signs as they marched to Baucom from the entrance of Haddon Hall on Wednesday morning.

“We felt like this would be a good way to get our voices heard,” Shawn Shearin said. “We haven’t been heard so far.”

Parents estimate that 120 Baucom Elementary students live in Haddon Hall. Last month, more than a dozen Haddon Hall residents wore red to a student assignment meeting at Apex High School to protest the decision to make Salem their base elementary school.

They talked to school officials and commented on the district website. But their remarks didn’t sway district planners to keep Baucom as Haddon Hall’s base when they submitted a final draft of the assignment plan to the school board earlier this month.

Assignment planners said they have listened and responded to the concerns of Haddon Hall families.

After initially proposing to cut the neighborhood’s ties to Baucom entirely, Laura Evans, Wake’s senior director of student assignment, said the district compromised with Haddon Hall families by allowing them to pick Baucom as one of two calendar options.

District planners don’t recommend keeping Baucom as the base elementary school for Haddon Hall because the school has 14 mobile units and “the need to reduce crowding is immediate,” said Lisa Luten, a spokeswoman for Wake schools.

The proposal to make Salem Elementary Haddon Hall’s base school also furthers the county’s mission to improve “calendar unity” between feeder schools. Salem Elementary feeds into Salem Middle, which is also a year-round school and is already Haddon Hall’s base middle school.

But many Baucom parents who marched Wednesday, such as Stacy Boxell, said they also have a student that attends Apex Middle School, a traditional calendar school.

Boxell said she worries that her fourth-grader may have to attend year-round Salem Elementary next year while her seventh-grader is at traditional Apex Middle.

“Baucom’s crowded because people want to send their kids to traditional schools,” she said.

She also worries that her fourth-grader will eventually be assigned to year-round Salem Middle when her seventh-grader goes on to attend one of the local high schools, which all operate on a traditional calendar.

“It just feels like they’re not giving us a choice,” she said. “That’s the problem.”

Wake schools has scheduled a public hearing Nov. 18, and the plan will be discussed again at a Nov. 25 work session. The school board is expected to consider minor changes before approving a plan Dec. 2.

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