Education

Find out if your child could be changing Wake County schools next fall

Students at 40 Wake County schools, especially in southern and southwestern Wake, could be on the move next year under proposed attendance boundary changes that were presented Tuesday.

Many of the students in the first draft of the 2018-19 student assignment plan would be sent to fill four new schools: South Garner High and Bryan Road Elementary in Garner, Apex Friendship Middle in Apex and Buckhorn Creek Elementary in Holly Springs. But student assignment staff are also recommending changes to help fill some existing schools and to help elementary schools meet new smaller class sizes going into effect in 2018.

“We’re only moving students if we have to,” said Laura Evans, who will be retiring at the end of September as senior director of student assignment. “We’re keeping it as tight as we can.”

Parents can go to www.wcpss.net/enrollmentproposal to see if their addresses are included in the draft plan and to provide comments.

The new plan will be presented at different information sessions, including Sept. 27 at Holly Grove Middle and Oct. 9 at South Garner High. The second draft of the plan will be presented Oct. 17, with the school board potentially voting in November.

Wake reassigns students annually because of growth. The district is projected to grow by 2,846 students a year over the next seven years. No specific figure was presented Tuesday of how many students are affected by the plan.

A new challenge this year is that state lawmakers are lowering the average class sizes for kindergarten through third grade to 17 students starting in the next school year. The average was 21 students last year.

Because of the new K-3 rules, the new plan would cut back on the district’s promise of providing stability to families.

The only reassigned elementary students who’d be able to “grandfather” at their current school are current fourth-grade students. Their younger siblings would also no longer automatically be allowed to stay with them, creating the potential for families with children at two different elementary schools.

The new plan also ends the grandfathering protection extended to younger siblings of older students who are reassigned to a different middle school or a high school.

If these new grandfathering rules are approved, more students would have to apply for a hardship transfer that might not be approved.

Southern and southwestern Wake are drawing the majority of the changes in the plan because that’s where the new schools are opening.

South Garner High’s proposed attendance line stretches from N.C. 42 to the south and into Southeast Raleigh to the north. The opening of the new school affects several other high schools – Enloe, Fuquay-Varina, Garner, Knightdale, Middle Creek and Southeast Raleigh.

Apex Friendship Middle affects Apex, Holly Ridge, Holly Grove and Lufkin Road middle schools.

Bryan Road Elementary impacts Aversboro, Creech Road, Rand Road, Timber Drive, Vance, Vandora Springs and Yates Mill elementary schools.

Buckhorn Creek Elementary affects Herbert Akins, Fuquay-Varina, Holly Grove, Lincoln Heights and Willow Springs elementary schools.

In addition to the new schools, the plan moves students from Dillard Drive Elementary to Adams Elementary, Green Elementary to Brooks Elementary and from Davis Drive, Dillard Drive and West Cary middle schools to East Cary Middle School.

Staff also want to change the areas that 13 year-round schools draw their application students from. It’s a change that administrators say will result in more students being accepted into the program but could also result in current year-round students having to change schools.

In recent years, Wake hasn’t used the assignment plan to focus as much on dealing with the rising number of low-income and low-achieving students at some schools. Amid concerns from school board members, Deputy Superintendent Cathy Moore said staff will present changes to address the issue next year in the 2019-20 assignment plan.

T. Keung Hui: 919-829-4534, @nckhui

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