Education

Enrollment caps proposed for 17 Wake County schools next year

hlynch@newsobserver.com

Seventeen crowded Wake County schools from all parts of the district could be under enrollment restrictions next school year that mean newly arriving families would be shut out of those campuses.

School facilities staff proposed Wednesday placing new enrollment caps for the 2016-17 school year on Fuquay-Varina and Garner high schools; Apex Middle School; and Cedar Fork, Davis Drive, Fuquay-Varina and Wiley elementary schools.

Administrators also wants to continue existing caps at Enloe, Heritage and Panther Creek high schools; Mills Park Middle; and Cary, Hodge Road, Holly Grove, Hunter, Mills Park and Walnut Creek elementary schools. The cap would be discontinued next year at Davis Drive Middle School.

Once capped schools hit a specific enrollment number, they’d only accept new students who had been living in their attendance area since before the cap was adopted. Families who moved in next year after the cap went into effect would be offered seats at schools that are farther away but have more space.

But school board members questioned some of the cap numbers presented by staff. For instance, board member Bill Fletcher questioned why the enrollment cap total for Mills Park Elementary is one student below its actual school campus capacity.

“The numbers presented are not correct,” Fletcher said after the facilities committee meeting. “I’m not going to cast any aspersions.”

Wake has used enrollment caps as one way to deal with growth. The state’s largest school district grew by slightly less than 2,000 kids to reach 157,180 students this school year.

Enrollment caps shift the burden on dealing with overcrowding to newcomers. Instead of moving existing students out of overcrowded schools, caps keep out families who haven’t yet moved into a school’s attendance area.

Enrollment caps shift the burden on dealing with overcrowding to newcomers. Instead of moving existing students out of overcrowded schools, caps keep out families who haven’t yet moved into a school’s attendance area.

Caps are lifted as new schools open around the crowded schools. Wake capped 11 schools for this school year.

Some recommendations could draw questions from the community. For instance, newcomers who move into Garner High School’s attendance area will be sent to Athens Drive High School in West Raleigh.

Last year, Broughton High School parents objected when staff recommended making Broughton the overflow school for Enloe High School. In a compromise, the board voted to split any newly arriving Enloe families between Broughton and Athens Drive.

Administrators want to continue using Broughton and Athens Drive as Enloe’s overflow schools next year.

Wednesday’s discussion was cut short after administrators were unable to answer questions that board members had about the cap numbers. Staff will bring back revised numbers to the facilities committee on Dec. 9. The recommendations could go to the full school board for approval in January.

“We want to get the numbers straight, that’s all,” school board member Kevin Hill, chairman of the facilities committee, said after the meeting.

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

  Comments