Some Wake County families have won a fight to keep their children from being moved to a different school next year, but school board members want to look at adding more students to the assignment plan.
Wake County school administrators proposed Tuesday a handful of changes to the 2018-19 student assignment plan that would affect schools in Cary, Fuquay-Varina, Garner, Holly Springs and Raleigh and provide more options than previously proposed for letting siblings stay at the same school.
School board members said they overall welcomed the changes but raised concerns about how the plan still would result in many families in southwest Wake having children attend elementary and middle schools that are on different calendars. Student assignment staff will come back on Nov. 7 with potential changes that could add more than 1,000 students from the Holly Springs area to the proposal.
Board members said that while adding more families now might not make them happy, in the long run it could provide them what they want by ending calendar mismatches.
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“If we have to do a number that we don’t usually do, we do it one time and then we fix it,” said school board member Kathy Hartenstine.
The addition of the possible changes means the adoption of the assignment plan will be pushed back from November to December.
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 would be affected by the new plan.
Many of the students affected by the plan would 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-size rules going into effect in 2018.
Aside from the calendar issues, much of the focus Tuesday was on changes made since the first draft of the plan was presented in September. More than 1,200 comments were posted on the district’s online forum, many from parents suggesting changes.
“We were able to make changes where possible,” said Glenn Carrozza, Wake’s senior director of assignment. “Unfortunately we weren’t able to make changes for every suggestion that we got, but we tried to do as much as we could.”
One of the biggest changes Tuesday would drop the movement of students from Davis Drive and Dillard Drive middle schools to East Cary Middle School.
Last month, student assignment staff had proposed moving the students to help fill East Cary Middle.
But Davis Drive parents complained that East Cary was much further away and started earlier in the morning than their current school. They also complained about being sent to a school with lower test scores than Davis Drive Middle, which was recently named a National Blue Ribbon School for its high test scores.
Another highly requested change added Tuesday would no longer remove 122 transfer students at Jeffreys Grove Elementary School at the end of the school year. Families had fought the change that was originally proposed to help the North Raleigh school meet next year’s smaller state-mandated class sizes in kindergarten through third grade.
Another big change included Tuesday would let younger siblings stay at the same school as their older siblings, a practice known as “grandfathering.” It’s an option given to students at certain grade levels to remain at their current school even if their neighborhood is moved as long as they provide their own transportation.
Staff previously recommended no grandfathering guarantee for younger siblings. But under the new rules, siblings would be able to grandfather to remain at the same school with their fifth- or eighth-grade sibling for one year before having to change schools. Siblings of high school students could grandfather for more than one year.
“We heard from parents who wanted to keep their siblings together,” Carrozza said.
Other changes in the new draft include:
▪ Drop the movement of students from Dillard Drive Elementary to Adams Elementary;
▪ Move the northern part of Timber Drive Elementary’s attendance area to Rand Road Elementary;
▪ Drop the reassignment of students into Timber Drive Elementary who live near the school;
▪ Move the Everwood subdivision to Bryan Road Elementary;
▪ Move some Willow Springs Elementary students to Banks Road Elementary;
▪ Move some Lincoln Heights Elementary students to Buckhorn Creek Elementary;
▪ Drop the movement of students from Fuquay-Varina and Hebert Akins elementary schools to Lincoln Heights Elementary.
Go to www.wcpss.net/enrollmentproposal to see if your address is affected, to find out more information about the plan and to provide comments.