Education

Wake County changed the student assignment plan. See who’s in and who’s out now.

Some Wake County families will be happy after their lobbying efforts helped persuade school officials to change a plan to move their children to different schools.

Wake County student assignment staff on Tuesday released draft two of a plan to move some students to different schools in the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years. The revised student assignment plan includes some changes suggested by families who’ve been lobbying the district since the first draft was released in October.

“Many changes have been made,” said school board chairman Jim Martin. “We can’t make all changes. There is work that we need to do to make sure that we appropriately fill all seats that we have available.”

Parents can find out more about the plan at http://www.wcpss.net/2020enrollmentproposal, including looking up whether their address is included. The lookup tool is supposed to be updated with the latest changes by Wednesday morning.

More than 850 comments have been posted on the district’s online forum at https://bit.ly/2mJQre6.

The school board will hold a public hearing on Nov. 19, with a vote planned for Dec. 3.

School officials say the majority of the moves are related to filling South Lakes Elementary, opening in Fuquay-Varina in 2020, and Willow Spring High, opening in 2021. The rest of the moves, according to student assignment staff, are meant to reduce crowding at some schools, fill some under-enrolled schools and improve transportation efficiency.

The plan has drawn complaints from some parents about their children being moved to schools that are further away, on a different calendar and potentially also have lower test scores. The complaints caused school officials to tell parents not to judge schools based on a single letter grade or test score.

The changes announced on Tuesday include:

Students who were being reassigned from Highcroft Drive Elementary to Salem Elementary are now proposed to attend Turner Creek Elementary.

Students are no longer proposed to be moved from Brassfield Elementary to Wakefield Elementary. It could be a temporary reprieve because student assignment staff said a revised recommendation will be made next year.

“This is a delay for a bigger move,” school board member Roxie Cash said.

Students who were proposed to be reassigned from Fuquay-Varina Middle to North Garner Middle are now proposed to attend West Lake Middle.

Adding the reassignment of an undeveloped part of Highcroft Drive Elementary’s northern attendance area to Carpenter Elementary and Alston Ridge Middle.

Adding currently undeveloped land to Fuquay-Varina High’s attendance area.

Some families had argued that too many students were being moved out so they should stay at Fuquay-Varina High. Instead of leaving them in, staff is proposing adding the undeveloped land to the school.

Those weren’t the only families still slated to be moved in the latest draft. For instance, it still includes some Fuquay-Varina families who didn’t want to be reassigned to schools in Garner.

“It is our duty to taxpayers across this county to make sure that we effectively utilize all schools, but I do want to acknowledge the frustration, the heartache that comes with student assignment,” Martin said.

Board members said some of the moves in the plan are needed because of how state lawmakers have lowered K-3 class sizes. Elementary schools are required to continue lowering their class sizes over the next few years.

*There’s no mercy on these numbers,” school board member Christine Kushner said of the class sizes.

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T. Keung Hui has covered K-12 education for the News & Observer since 1999, helping parents, students, school employees and the community understand the vital role education plays in North Carolina. His primary focus is Wake County, but he also covers statewide education issues.
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