Garner may lift restrictions on school building permits

January 22, 2008 5:25:32 PM PST
The Garner Board of Aldermen is expected to vote on lifting restrictions it placed on building permits for renovating two elementary schools at its meeting Tuesday night.

The town threatened to withhold occupancy permits from Wake county schools unless the school board lowered the number of lower income students at Smith and Aversboro Elementary Schools.

At a meeting Tuesday afternoon, school board members signed a resolution that says it'll use the increased capacity created by renovations at the two schools to "move in the direction specified by Wake County Board of Education Policy 6200."

That policy limits the number of lower income students to 40% at any given school. Around 70% of students at Smith and Aversboro receive free or reduced lunches, one way in which income status is measured.

"Well that's a plus," Garner Mayor Ronnie Williams said about the resolution. "We've been given lip service for a long time and we've never had anything in writing."

School Board Chair Rosa Gill says Garner leaders have a reason to be optimistic.

"We are going to be looking at Smith and Aversboro because we are renovating those schools and we have expanded the capacity. So, we are going to be doing some things at those schools when they open up."

What the school board will do remains to be seen. If the number of lower income students at a school is high then under Policy 6200 staff will work with the superintendent on ways to lower the number.

That could mean bussing more or fewer students in from other areas. Gill admits there could be little change.

"I may not mean that we reduce the target. It may not be possible for us in all cases to reduce the target."

But they'll try, according to what is now in writing.

"I'm hopeful," Mayor Williams said. "And I haven't been hopeful in a long time."


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