Wake County Track 4

Wake County School district proposes to move students from 21 schools

More Wake County students would be moved out of overcrowded schools or into schools closer to them under a new proposal by school officials. But the plan would require some students who are in traditional-calendar schools to move to year-round schools and vice versa.

Mod  Feature - Wake County Speedway //
Mod Feature – Wake County Speedway //

The Wake County Public School System’s proposed student assignment plan for the 2024-25 school year, discussed by the school board for the first time Tuesday, focuses less on reassigning students to underenrolled schools — a move that could appease parents who have largely favored more neighborhood-based school assignments.

Instead, it would relieve crowding at some schools by moving some students to other nearby schools. It also would reassign some neighborhoods to schools closer to them geographically, easing the commute for families and reducing the distance school buses — amid an ongoing shortage of bus drivers — would have to travel.

Late Model Feature - Wake County Speedway //
Late Model Feature – Wake County Speedway //

“What we’re trying to do is bring students closer to home in some areas,” said said Glenn Carrozza, district assistant superintendent of school choice, planning and assignment.

The new plan would move students out of 21 schools next year and send them to other nearby schools. That’s down from the current school year, when students from 29 schools were reassigned. The school system has nearly 200 schools. Typically, about 2% to 3% of students are affected by reassignment, or 3,000 students to 5,000 students. The number of students affected should be about in line with that average, Carrozza said.

Year Round School: How It Works and Why It
Year Round School: How It Works and Why It’s Awesome

School board members asked numerous questions Tuesday but expressed support for some changes around moving students to schools closer to where they live.

Board members noted the long busing and commuting routes for some families at Southeast Raleigh High School and the growing desire to reduce those. The school has a history of busing students in from wide geographic areas.

- DRAFT Instructional Calendars  February
– DRAFT Instructional Calendars February

The school board moves thousands of the school system’s 160,000 students around each year as it tries to balance enrollment in the fast-growing county. To do so, it sometimes assigns students to schools that are farther from their homes to fill empty seats or relieve overcrowded schools.

Becky Lew Hobbs, a Wake County Schools parent, says population growth is a major challenge for the district.

“We’ve got overcrowding in schools,” Hobbs said. “We have some schools underutilized but also have bus issues.”

In years past, the school board had focused more on student assignments intended to diversify student bodies economically, partially in the hopes they’d help improve student achievement. But more recently, the board has focused more on proximity and easing transportation concerns.

“I see a lot of these changes are in particular schools that have had real transportation problems,” Board Vice Chairman Chris Heagarty said.

For example, Pleasant Grove Elementary has struggled and would lose some neighborhoods and gain others.

“But because it’s pulling form such a wide assignment area they’ve had a lot of difficulty getting kids to school,” Heagarty said.

The reassignment could help, Heagarty hoped.

Families are less concerned with overcrowding, the school system’s survey shows, although overcrowded schools can be economically inefficient to run and lead to increased use of expensive trailers to educate children.

The plan would allow most parents to apply for “stability” transfers, which allow students to stay at their originally assigned schools.

Families have long been able to apply to transfer their students out of a year-round school and into a traditional calendar school. But the latest proposal would eliminate several traditional-year options in an effort to reduce busing routes to non-base schools, said Susan Pullium, senior director of student assignment.

Twenty-two year-round schools would no longer have a dedicated traditional-calendar school that students could transfer into. Twelve more schools would see their list of transfer options reduced from two or more to just one school that’s open only for families living in certain areas. Options would remain for several year-round schools, such as those that are overcrowded and are helped by students transferring out.

Families with children already attending a traditional-calendar school via transfer could apply for a stability transfer to stay at that school. Families at year-round schools could still apply for their children to attend a traditional-calendar school under a hardship transfer, as well. But in both cases, the students wouldn’t be eligible any longer for busing to the school.

Tuesday’s work session was the first of several presentations, discussions and, eventually, public comment opportunities before a planned November approval.

Families can find out more about the reassignment proposal, and whether they are affected, here.

The school system plans to send out information to families later this week.

A reshuffling in Holly Springs

The biggest moves for next year would be made to fill the new Woods Creek Elementary in Holly Springs. The proposal so far would make Woods Creek a multi-track, year-round calendar school for 924 students. Multi-track schools have multiple tracks of students attending the same school at different times. How many tracks the school would have would depend on enrollment projections closer to opening.

The proposal would move students out of traditional-calendar Apex and Oakview elementary schools and multi-track calendar Holly Springs Elementary. All three are over capacity.

A fourth school — multi-track calendar Oak Grove Elementary — would also receive students from Holly Springs Elementary as a part of the move. Oak Grove, in Raleigh, is well under capacity. Without moving students into Oak Grove or Woods Creek, Holly Springs Elementary is projected to have 34% more students than its built for in two years. If those reassignments were to happen as proposed, the school would be at 91% capacity in two years.

Families of children who will be in fourth or fifth grade next year could apply to stay at their school instead of moving to Woods Creek, and they could apply for any younger siblings who will be kindergarten or older to stay, as well. They would not have busing.

Elementary school changesSome students would be moved out of overcapacity Banks Road Elementary in Raleigh to neighboring West Lake Elementary in Apex. Both schools’ calendars are single-track year-round. Single-track year-round means there’s only one group of students attending school on the same calendar.A portion of students in Raleigh who are assigned to Carpenter Elementary in Cary would be reassigned to Olds or Combs elementary schools in Raleigh. They would move from a multi-track year-round calendar to a traditional calendar.Some Leesville Road and Southeast Raleigh elementary school areas would be rezoned to Hunter, Joyner or Powell elementary schools. All are traditional calendar schools in Raleigh.A portion of Durant Road Elementary families neighboring Partnership Elementary’s assignment zone would be moved into the Partnership Elementary assignment zone. That would actually increase overcrowding at Partnership Elementary but would reassign families to the elementary school that’s closer to them. It would require a change to a modified calendar.Some Sanford Creek Elementary students living south of Interstate 540 would move into Durant Elementary, a school that’s closer to them. The move would also reduce overcrowding at Sanford Creek. Those students would move from a multi-track year-round calendar to a single-track year-round calendar.Pleasant Grove Elementary in Morrisville would be the focal point of several changes. A portion of its attendance zone would be reassigned into Brier Creek, Leesville Road or York elementary schools in Raleigh. Then, parts of Alston Ridge and Parkside elementary schools, in Cary and Morrisville, would be reassigned to Pleasant Grove Elementary. The changes would reduce some overcrowding at the schools, although they would require some calendar changes for families to or from multi-track or traditional calendars. Families of children who will be in fourth or fifth grade next year could apply to stay at their school instead of moving to Pleasant Grove, and they could apply for any younger siblings who will be kindergarten or older to stay, as well. They would not have busing.Portions of Bryan Road Elementary’s assignment zone would be move to Aversboro, Rand or Vance elementary schools. It would realign attendance zones in a way that makes all of the zones one connected area, instead of two unconnected areas, while reducing some overcrowding. Some of the affected families would move to a single-track calendar while others would stay on a traditional calendar.Middle school changesSome students from Apex and Apex Friendship middle schools would be moved into the under-capacity Lufkin Road Middle School in Apex. That would change those students’ calendars from traditional to multi-track year-round.The same pocket of Raleigh families who would be reassigned from Carpenter Elementary in Cary to Raleigh-based elementary schools would also be reassigned from Alston Ridge Middle in Cary to either Centennial or Martin middle schools in Raleigh. Those would require calendar changes.Some Centennial and Leesville Road middle school families would be reassigned to either Ligon or Martin middle schools. Those are the same neighborhoods that would be reassigned from Leesville Road or Southeast Raleigh elementary schools. Families moving out of Centennial would move to a traditional calendar.A portion of Durant Road Middle families neighboring Moore Square Magnet Middle School’s assignment zone would be moved into the Moore Square assignment zone. That would actually prompt overcrowding at Moore Square but would reassign families who reside inside the Interstate 440 belt line to a middle school that’s somewhat closer to them. That’s the same area that would be reassigned from Durant Road Elementary to Partnership Elementary. It would require a change to a modified calendar.High school changesSome Leesville Road and Southeast Raleigh high school students would be reassigned into Broughton or Enloe high schools. Those are the same neighborhoods that would be reassigned out of Leesville Road or Southeast Raleigh elementary schools and Leesville Road or Centennial middle schools. The high school student reassigned would move to traditional calendars.