Wake to target overcrowded, under enrolled schools

January 4, 2011 7:08:08 PM PST
In a budget crisis with no future building program in place, Wake School leaders will get creative in addressing their growth with a closer look at existing schools.

Projections show that by 2013, 20 elementary schools, six middle and eight high schools in Wake County will be severely overcrowded. School staff identified the schools that will be at 120 percent capacity or higher. The most crowded would be Garner High School at 185 percent capacity, Leesville Road Middle at 191 percent, and Joyner Elementary at 168.5 percent.

On the flip side, 15 elementary schools and three middle schools would be under enrolled with 75 percent or fewer students than those schools could hold. Lake Myra Elementary would be the lowest at 53.3 percent.

Wake Schools’ Growth and Planning Department, Facilities Department and the Curriculum and Instruction Division will spend the next few months coming up with creative solutions to balance out these schools.

"Ideas include creating K-2, 3-5 schools, sixth grade centers, ninth grade centers, K-8 schools, Career and Technical Education centers," said Laura Evans, Senior Director of Growth and Planning.

They’ll also review existing Magnet programs and consider adding new Magnets in the process.

"Thank you. Thank you," School Board Chair Ron Margiotta said to Evans at a meeting Tuesday. "I’ve been asking for years that this be done."

Evans added that they will not be able to do this in time for the 2011-12 school year. She explained that some people might get upset if they’re moved in the 2011 school year and then moved again in 2012 once their long-term utilization plan is created.

Changes made in reassignment plan

In other board action Tuesday, other changes in enrollment at schools for the 2010-11 school year may not be that drastic after all. School board members decided against moving thousands of students from a certain area. Instead, they're making smaller changes across the county to get kids to schools closer to home.

Some members of the board minority are still concerned that diversity is not a factor in the decision.

"It's morally the right thing to do and ethically. Not just that we're following the law. That's important, and we have to do that, but I really think we need to do what's right for the children which sometimes gets lost," offered Carolyn Morrison.

Members of the board majority claim the moves based on proximity are a victory for parents in Holly Springs whose kids will stay put and others in Cary's Carpenter Village who will finally get Davis Drive as their middle school - much closer to home.

"Things sound good. I think we're moving in the right direction," said Margiotta.

The new reassignment plan will be posted online Wednesday.

Click here for more details

A series of public hearings will begin next week before a final vote in February.

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