Wake County’s new student assignment plan would move 1,572 students to different schools next year over the vocal objections of some parents.
The Wake County school board unanimously approved a plan on Tuesday that’s supposed to carry out the goals of filling a new school, easing crowding at existing schools and reducing the number of buses needed for the 2024-25 school year.
The plan was modified on Tuesday to convert Pleasant Grove Elementary in Morrisville to a year-round calendar. But no assignment changes were made, despite parental lobbying, since the first draft of the plan was released in September.
“We do understand that families don’t prefer to be impacted by reassignment, generally speaking,” said Susan Pullium, senior director for student assignment. “We feel like we’ve presented the smallest version of an assignment that accomplishes all of those goals and take into account the feedback from families about keeping their neighborhoods together, trying to offer as much stability as possible.”
Wake says 1,146 students, or 73% of those being moved, are eligible for a “stability transfer.” This means they’ll be able to stay at their current school if they provide their own transportation.
Parents can look for the plan’s details at wcpss.net/enroll. Wake will contact the families who are directly affected by the approved changes.
The plan moves students out of 21 schools. It affects less than 1% of the district’s 160,000 students.
“To these families that will be potentially moving to new schools, you will be in good hands,” said board member Tyler Swanson.
What schools are affected by student assignment plan?
The plan fills the new Woods Creek Elementary School in Holly Springs with students from Apex, Holly Springs and Oak Grove elementary schools. Woods Creek will operate on a multi-track year-round calendar but will draw some traditional-calendar students.
The plan also helps address Wake’s bus driver shortage by moving some neighborhoods to closer schools, including some areas that historically have been bused out of downtown Raleigh to more distant schools for diversity purposes.
“We’ve heard nothing but this will be better for the routes and for the students,” Pullium said.
Wake will stop providing bus service for some “calendar-application” students. These students have applied to a school on a different calendar than their assigned school. They can stay at their application school if they provide their own transportation.
Wake is also easing crowding at Bryan Road Elementary in Garner by moving some students to Aversboro Elementary. The Bryan Road parents have pointed to how Aversboro is a lower-performing school.
“Movement, transition is going to be hard for kids,” board member Cheryl Caulfield said to Pullium. “It’s going to be hard for families. But in the long run with the transportation issues we have, with the stability issues that we do have, I do understand the decisions and the way that you did it and how in the long run it’s going to help families.”
Calendar change to Pleasant Grove Elementary
The moves that have drawn the most complaints revolve around the proposal for Pleasant Grove Elementary.
The plan moves a large portion of Pleasant Grove Elementary’s students to Brier Creek and Leesville Road elementary schools in northwest Raleigh.
Pullium said the main goal is to relieve crowding at Alston Ridge Elementary in Cary and Parkside Elementary in Morrisville by moving whole neighborhoods to Pleasant Grove. Both year-round schools also have an enrollment cap that keeps some nearby families from attending.
Some parents complained about being moved to a traditional-calendar school. In response, Pullium recommended changing Pleasant Grove’s calendar to year-round.
“That would support stability for the families coming out of Parkside and Alston Ridge into the school to have one less change as part of this reassignment,” Pullium said.
How stability transfers work for WCPSS
Wake will open a stability transfer period, or what has been called “grandfathering,” from Nov. 29 to Dec. 13 for students who don’t want to move to a different school.
Students affected by the assignment changes can remain at their current school if they file a request during the stability transfer period and agree to provide their own transportation.
The stability rules will vary depending on what school a student is reassigned to next year.
▪ Rising fourth- and fifth-grade students being reassigned to Woods Creek Elementary can stay at their current elementary school if they provide their own transportation. In addition, their younger siblings will be able to stay with them at their current school.
▪ The proposed Woods Creek transfer rules would also apply to students who are being reassigned into or out of Pleasant Grove Elementary.
▪ Excluding Woods Creek and Pleasant Grove, all other students who are being reassigned can stay at their current school if they provide their own transportation. Rising kindergarten, sixth-grade and ninth-grade students can also request to stay with their sibling to avoid being reassigned.