An audit released two months ago showed that some schools in Knightdale were filled with inexperienced teachers and food shortages in the cafeteria.
Tuesday was the first of six meetings to improve academic performance in eastern Wake County,
"I would love for my middle school student to stay in this area," said parent Rhonda Smith.
Smith says that won't happen as long as low achievement plagues eastern Wake County schools.
The Wendell mother, who transferred one of her daughters away from Knightdale High School, will likely do the same with her eighth grader.
"When you're trying to get your child to be more challenged, you're not getting the resources that you need at these schools," said Smith.
That problem was one of several discussed at Tuesday night's meeting at Forrestville Road Elementary School in Knightdale.
"Everybody in there has a vested interest in the schools being successful," said Knightdale Mayor Russell Killen.
The crowd dubbed the "Knightdale-area Education Work Group" formed after Wake Schools released an audit in August revealed alarming disparities.
"It's confirming what people have voiced concerns about out here," said Wake County School Board member Tom Benton.
The report from Curriculum Management Systems Inc. examined Knightdale High, East Wake Middle along with Hodge Road and Knightdale Elementary Schools. It found troubles ranging from inexperienced teachers to food shortages in the cafeteria, and a lack of challenging curriculum.
"I did these statistics three years ago and it has not changed," said Smith. "In fact, it's gotten a little worse."
"Tonight is just laying the ground work," said Benton.
Perhaps groundbreaking for about 40 educators, civic leaders and parents who will crunch the data to feed the school board fresh ideas for the future.
"My biggest hope is that five years from now Knightdale schools will be place that every Knightdale parent wants to send their kids," said Killen.
The group would like to forward its ideas to the board by January.