Gone are the days of sweeping student assignment plans in Wake County Public Schools, but that doesn’t mean families are still concerned about where their kids go to school.
The Wake County School Board heard from WCPSS staff on Sept. 6 about changes coming to assignment plans around the opening of two new elementary schools, one new middle school, and a new application-only high school in the 2017-18 school year. Staff emphasized that reassignment was necessary when new schools open, but that four factors are considered when making plans for assignment zones: Student Achievement, Stability, Proximity, and Operational Efficiency.
Parents from Mills Park Elementary School in Cary were very concerned about the proposed assignment plan and took to the microphone during the public comment period at the Sept. 20 school board meeting. Mills Park Elementary has a capped enrollment because it is at capacity, and many students will be reassigned to the new Hortons Creek Elementary School when it opens next year.
Many parents suggested the cut-off for the Hortons Creek assignment should be Carpenter Fire Station Road, which is just north of the Cary Park neighborhood. A few suggested that if proximity is a priority, then Cary Park should remain in the Mills Park assignment zone since the neighborhood sits across Green Level Church Road from Mills Park.
One parent pointed out that the assignment plan as proposed would also remove all students who receive free and reduced federal lunch subsidies from Mills Park Elementary.
The other two schools scheduled to open next year which will have new assignment zones are Rogers Lane Elementary, which will open just east of downtown Raleigh, and River Bend Middle School, which will open near River Bend Elementary in the I-540 and US 401 area near the 5401 North neighborhood.
Rogers Lane will draw from Hodge Road, Walnut Creek, Barwell and Knightdale elementary schools. River Bend Middle will draw from Rolesville, East Millbrook, Durant Road, East Wake, and Wendell. The new middle school was supposed to open as a year-round school to match River Bend Elementary, but it is likely the elementary school will convert to traditional and the middle school will open as traditional, too.
The fourth school opening next school year will not affect assignment zones. Known for now as the CTE North High School, the new school will be a collaboration between WCPSS and Wake Tech Community College, similar to, but smaller than, the Vernon Malone College and Career Academy. It will be housed in the former Wakefield High School Ninth Grade Center on Durham Road in Wake Forest.
The new high school will serve fewer than 500 students and offer four to five career and technical education programs. Students who wish to attend will have to apply.
WCPSS is taking public comments on the new school assignment plan via its website.