A North Raleigh middle school could become Wake County’s newest magnet school in order to help fill the school and continue offering the International Baccalaureate program for students in Raleigh.
Wake County school administrators recommended Tuesday that West Millbrook Middle School become a magnet school in 2018 offering the International Baccalaureate theme, an academically rigorous program that’s supposed to help prepare students to function in a global world. Wake is looking to move the IB theme from East Millbrook Middle because that school is focusing more now on its visual and performing arts magnet theme.
School board members were supportive Tuesday of moving the magnet program to West Millbrook. There were some concerns about how the transition would take place for current East Millbrook students.
“It could be a real boost for West Millbrook,” said school board member Kathy Hartenstine. “I’m real pleased that this is a possibility for that particular area.”
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Since 1982, Wake has offered unique themes at magnet schools to try to lure students to fill under-enrolled schools that have high concentrations of low-income students. School officials note that West Millbrook is above the district average for students receiving subsidized meals, is below the district average on student achievement and is only at 84 percent of its building capacity. A lower percentage of students who live in West Millbrook’s attendance area go to the school compared to other Wake middle schools.
School officials said the new magnet program could help West Millbrook compete with charter schools and private schools for students.
Families at West Millbrook have been clamoring for help for the school, located off Strickland and Falls of Neuse roads. Informational meetings are scheduled for Wednesday for the school’s staff and parents.
Feedback from those meetings will be shared at a school board committee meeting next week. The school board could vote Oct. 17.
Students can enter the International Baccalaureate program in elementary school and stay through high school to get an IB diploma. The IB program promotes learning through global contexts and community service.
In Raleigh, students can enter the IB program at Joyner or Fox Road elementary schools, which feed students into East Millbrook Middle and Millbrook High School.
East Millbrook was having trouble recruiting enough magnet students so in 2015 it began offering the Academy of Visual and Performing Arts theme while still offering the International Baccalaureate program. Magnet school staff say that East Millbrook will increase the number of magnet applications by narrowing its focus.
Funding for the new program at West Millbrook would come from reallocating other magnet school funding, so there would be no additional cost to Wake.