Wake County parents demanded on Monday that their children be allowed to go to high schools close to where they live even if it means being split apart from their middle school friends.
More than 280 people packed Broughton High School to have one final say on the Wake school system's plan to move 26,771 students to different schools over the next three years. The theme from many speakers was that attending their closest school should trump goals for student assignment.
"The parents, teachers and children of Wake County want neighborhood-based schools," said Janet Hammond, a parent whose neighborhood would be reassigned out of the Leesville Road High zone.
High schools dominated much of the discussion. Parents railed largely against changes to Leesville Road, Millbrook and Broughton attendance zones.
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Chuck Dulaney, assistant superintendent for growth and planning, told parents that distance is one factor in assigning students. He explained that it's balanced against several other factors, including diversity and a new effort this year to try to keep groups of students together across schools.
For instance, administrators say they want to try to have an elementary school feed into one middle school instead of several. They're also trying to reduce the number of high schools served by each middle school.
But this means neighborhoods are being moved to different middle schools and high schools because of where their students now attend elementary school.
Michele Scollard said the district's plan works only if the elementary and middle schools for a neighborhood also make sense. She was one of several Northwest Raleigh parents who say they shouldn't be moved to Millbrook High when they live so close to Leesville Road High.
Several parents complained it's unfair to move their neighborhoods to Sanderson High when they live so close to Broughton. They've been lobbying the school board to remove Broughton's magnet program in hopes it will allow them to stay at the school.
Several Broughton parents suggested keeping the magnet program and not moving families out.
The school board will vote on whether to remove Broughton's magnet program and give it to another school. This afternoon some students will rally on campus in favor of the program.
Administrators still plan to release a revised reassignment plan to the school board on Dec. 16. Because of this week's Broughton vote, the plan probably won't be posted online until the following weekend.