Wake County school administrators recommend changes to reassignment plan

Photo by Michael Hyland/CBS North Carolina

CARY, N.C. (WNCN) – As Wake County school leaders figure out where to place thousands of students next year, some parents learned Tuesday they were successful in their efforts to keep their children where they are.

The school board got an update on revisions to next year’s reassignment plan after parents spent the last month giving feedback.

Board members still have concerns about plans to fill the two new elementary schools in Garner and Holly Springs, including having families on mismatched calendars (traditional vs. year-round) and also causing some children to switch back and forth between those calendars too many times by the time they graduate from high school.

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Administrators plan to revise the plan again, pushing for a board vote in early December. This could mean reassigning more families now to avoid more changes later.

“I know it’s going to impact more families. I think that those forced mismatches will be more of an impact on families,” said board member Lindsay Mahaffey.

Administrators recommended dropping some changes that had been part of the assignment plan.

Among them are shifting some students to East Cary Middle from the western part of Cary. Parents pushed back on that, with concerns about longer commutes to school and switching to a year-round calendar.

Additionally, administrators said more than 100 transfer students at Jeffreys Grove Elementary in Raleigh would be able to stay at that school instead of being forced to attend other schools.

Administrators also recommend allowing siblings of students in the fifth or eighth grade to stay in the same school as them for one year, a practice known as grandfathering. Originally, the proposal did not guarantee siblings could stay together.

Click here to see the latest changes to the assignment plan

Some parents are still concerned about the proposal. Parents and kids at Abbotts Creek Elementary in Raleigh on Tuesday urged the school board to reconsider.

“It breaks my heart,” said Lauren Kaiser, whose son Cameron is in second grade.

Though they live across the street from Abbotts Creek, her family has been reassigned to Fox Road Elementary. They also have the option of attending Durant Road Elementary, which is year-round.

Kaiser is concerned about being able to afford child care during track-out periods, which is when kids on the year-round schedule are on break.

“He’s the most important thing, and we would do that if we had to. But, we really want to stay at Abbotts Creek because we love it,” she said.

Seven-year-old Cameron told the school board he’s concerned about leaving his school.

“And, it’s kind of unfair,” he said. “I really just want to stay there because I have a lot of great friends that are there.”

In an interview with CBS North Carolina, school board chairwoman Monika Johnson-Hostler pointed to growth in Wake County combined with a state mandate to reduce class sizes at the K-3 level.

“We all completely understand there will be people who are not happy with the decision, but it’s a decision we have to make. We open new schools. We’re continuing to grow,” she said.

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