Wake Ed

Wake County school board to discuss school enrollment caps

Mills Park Middle School sixth graders move through the hallways between periods in Cary, N.C. on May 19, 2015. Wake County school staff recommend keeping the enrollment cap on Mills Park for the 2016-17 school year due to overcrowding.
Mills Park Middle School sixth graders move through the hallways between periods in Cary, N.C. on May 19, 2015. Wake County school staff recommend keeping the enrollment cap on Mills Park for the 2016-17 school year due to overcrowding. clowenst@newsobserver.com

Wake County school administrators will recommend Wednesday putting 17 crowded schools under enrollment limits for the 2016-17 school year, meaning some newly arriving families could be shut out of those campuses.

At Wednesday’s facilities committee meeting, staff will recommend keeping existing enrollment caps on 10 schools: Enloe, Heritage and Panther Creek high schools; Mills Park Middle; and Cary, Hodge Road, Holly Grove, Hunter, Mills Park and Walnut Creek elementary schools. Staff recommends dropping the cap at Davis Drive Middle School.

But staff will also recommend placing new caps on Fuquay-Varina and Garner high schools; Apex Middle School; and Cedar Fork, Davis Drive, Fuquay-Varina and Wiley elementary schools. It would increase the number of schools that are capped from 11 this school year to 17 next year.

Enrollment caps have been used by the school system to deal with overcrowding instead of reassigning students. Caps place the burden on newcomers instead of existing students.

When a school hits its enrollment limit, new families who move in after the date the cap was enacted would not be guaranteed a seat at their assigned school. Instead, they’d be sent to another school that has space.

Many of the schools on the proposed cap list are already over their cap figure. For instance, Davis Drive Elementary’s cap limit is 1,000 students, but the school is already at 1,076 students. If the cap is approved, families who move into Davis Drive’s attendance area after January would be given the option of attending Carpenter, Morrisville or White Oak elementary schools.

School staff say those schools will get relief as new schools open, allowing them to lift some of the caps.

After today’s presentation, the recommendations will be presented to the full board.

Other agenda items today include:

▪ An update on the district’s identified space needs, including creating a Pre-K center and virtual school center, adding new alternative school spaces and creating more schools like the Vernon Malone College & Career Academy;

▪ Review of different options for renovating East Wake Middle School.

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