The Enrollment Plan – Draft Two: Forest and Trees

Draft two of the 2016-2017 Student Enrollment Proposal was presented by WCPSS staff to the school board on Tuesday afternoon.  Having received almost 1,500 online comments from more than 500 people regarding draft one, staff made changes to the plan.  Those changes were revealed and explained.

Some media sources described last Tuesday’s school board meeting using words and phrases including “winners and losers” as well as “tears” and “jeers.”

Take another look.  You will find a group of individuals working hard, and within very tight parameters, to take care of students and schools within the Wake County Public School System.

Added Schools = More Movement

WCPSS added three new schools this year.  Five will open in 2016-17, three more in 2017-18, and five additional in 2018-19.  That makes sixteen schools in four years.  Opening schools meaning moving students to fill them.  And when those schools are built and filled, we will still need more.  This means moving more students to fill them.

Which students?  Some will be among the anticipated 40,000 new students in the next ten years, an average of 4,000 new students each year.  Some will be among the 155,000+ students attending our schools now.

In short, we are still at the beginning of a multi-year wave of moving students to fill schools.

Efficiency = An Increasingly Important Key

WCPSS experienced a $25 million reduction in transportation funding in this year’s state education budget.  Let that sink in a moment.  A system that grows by 3,000-4,000 students each year, and will add 16 new schools in a four-year period, had its transportation budget REDUCED.

Operational efficiency, one of the four tenets of Board Policy 6200, includes “maximizing transportation efficiencies.”  As schools are filled with students, it is crucial to expand – not just maintain – transportation efficiencies.

With a shrinking transportation budget, a growing number of students to transport, and an increasing number of schools to service, transportation efficiency may become increasingly important in student enrollment plans.

Forest and Trees

Our goal with INContext is to provide further context to public education happenings.  Sometimes that requires that we drill down into details to make decisions meaningful – we look more closely at the trees.  Just as often, it requires that we pull back the lens to capture a broader perspective – we view the forest.

Ultimately, we must view the Wake County Public School System as both a large, complex system with interlocking parts and a system of individual students, families, and schools.  Holding both views at the same time is no easy task.  But WakeEd believes it is essential to see the unique realities, challenges, and opportunities of our schools.

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