Wake Ed

Wake County school board to discuss new and revised magnet schools

Ron Pearson, a fourth grader, is greeted during the first day of school at Lincoln Heights Elementary School in Fuquay-Varina, N.C., Monday, August 29, 2016. The Wake County school system may add a magnet school program back at Lincoln Heights.
Ron Pearson, a fourth grader, is greeted during the first day of school at Lincoln Heights Elementary School in Fuquay-Varina, N.C., Monday, August 29, 2016. The Wake County school system may add a magnet school program back at Lincoln Heights. ehyman@newsobserver.com

The Wake County school board will discuss Tuesday expanding the magnet school program, revising swing space plans for Raleigh elementary schools and potential changes to the student assignment plan.

At the work session, staff will present a proposal to add a magnet school program to Lincoln Heights Elementary School in Fuquay-Varina. Staff is also looking at revising the magnet themes at three Raleigh schools – Southeast Raleigh High and Bugg and Millbrook elementary schools – that have seen declining parental interest.

If approved by the school board, Wake would apply for a federal grant to fund the new programs. The district would have to come up with the money locally if the grant isn’t approved, as will be the case for the most recent federal Magnet Schools Assistance Program grant that wasn’t funded.

All four schools are recommended for inclusion in the new grant because they’ve got empty seats and a high percentage of students receiving subsidized lunches. One of the goals of the magnet grant is to diversify and integrate schools.

Lincoln Heights used to be a magnet school until the school board voted in 2007 to remove the program. At the time, school leaders said the school was no longer meeting the district's objective of increasing diversity and filling schools that had lower enrollments.

Since then, Lincoln Heights’ enrollment has fallen and its percentage of low-income students has shot up. It’s now part of a program that helps support elementary schools with lower test scores.

Also on Tuesday

▪ The board will review two new options for changing the swing space schedules and locations for Conn, North Ridge, Stough, Wiley and York elementary schools. The new options would give some students a closer place to attend while their campuses are renovated.

▪ The board will discuss potential changes to the draft 2017-18 student assignment proposal being developed by staff. A vocal group of Mills Park Elementary School parents has been asking not to be reassigned to the new Hortons Creek Elementary School.

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