Education

Four Wake County magnet schools will share $14.9 million federal grant

Students at Lincoln Heights Elementary School in Fuquay-Varina, N.C., work on a science experiment in this 2014 file photo. Lincoln Heights is among four Wake County schools that will share a $14.9 million federal grant to spend on new magnet school themes.
Students at Lincoln Heights Elementary School in Fuquay-Varina, N.C., work on a science experiment in this 2014 file photo. Lincoln Heights is among four Wake County schools that will share a $14.9 million federal grant to spend on new magnet school themes. News & Observer file photo

Four Wake County magnet schools will share $14.9 million in federal dollars to spend on new science- and engineering-related themes designed to lure more students into those schools.

Wake County school officials announced Wednesday that the district had won a federal Magnet Schools Assistance Program (MSAP) grant that’s designed to reduce socioeconomic isolation in schools and raise student achievement. The money will help revise the magnet themes at Southeast Raleigh High School and Bugg and Millbrook elementary schools in Raleigh and create a new magnet program at Lincoln Heights Elementary in Fuquay-Varina.

The nearly $15 million that will come over the next three years is the largest competitive grant awarded in Wake’s history.

“Our magnet and curriculum enhancement programs have been pillars of innovation for our district and have set a national standard for excellence,” Superintendent Jim Merrill said in a written statement. “We continue to seek and discover ways to offer the best choices possible for our community.”

Since 1982, Wake has offered unique academic programs at magnet schools to try to fill and diversify under-enrolled schools.

All four schools were chosen for the grant because they have much higher percentages of students receiving subsidized lunches than the district average, and their test scores are also below Wake’s average. In addition, Bugg, Millbrook and Southeast Raleigh all have seen large drops in the number of magnet applications.

The grant will fund a center of design and computer sciences at Bugg, a school of design, art and engineering at Southeast Raleigh and an environmental connections theme at Lincoln Heights and Millbrook.

Those concepts were picked because school officials said the grant gave priority to themes dealing with science, technology, engineering and math, popularly called STEM. For instance, the environmental connections theme will have students study topics such as pollution, weather patterns and changes, and environmentally sustainable energy sources.

Wake began implementing the themes at Bugg, Millbrook and Southeast Raleigh this year. Lincoln Heights will begin its new theme next year.

The magnet application period will run Jan. 10-31. Families can learn more about the schools at Wake’s Magnet, Year-Round and Early College Fair on Nov. 4 at Southeast Raleigh High School.

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

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