‘This is not easy‘: Wake school board approves reassignment plan despite some outcry

— The Wake County Board of Education unanimously approved the 2020-21 school assignment plan Tuesday despite outcry from some families who asked that their children not be moved to different schools.

The changes, which will affect about 1,500 students or 1% of the total student body, were made in response to the district building two new schools to keep up with growth and help prevent overcrowding in the next two years. The new schools are:

  • South Lakes Elementary, 1433 Old Honeycutt Road, Fuquay-Varina, opening in August 2020
  • Willow Spring High School, 1704 Old Honeycutt Road, Fuquay-Varina, opening in August 2021

Before voting Tuesday, board members thanked the public for sharing feedback about the plan and said how difficult it was to decide which schools and students would be affected.

“You can look around the board and see from our faces this is not something we take any pleasure or enjoyment from,” board member Lindsay Mahaffey said. “This is not easy for anyone at this table.”

The only change made from is that students reassigned from Highcroft Drive Elementary to Turner Creek Elementary will have Baucom Elementary as their traditional calendar application school instead of Green Hope Elementary, as originally opposed.

Some students who received a new assignment are eligible to request to grandfather and stay at their current school without district transportation. Families eligible to grandfather for the 2020-21 school year can submit their request Dec. 11-20. Eligible families will be reminded about the request period next week and receive a link from the school district to submit their request.

All eligible families will have their requests approved. Grandfathering requests related to the opening of Willow Spring High, including assignments from Holly Springs High to Fuquay-Varina High, will be made next December. School system staff will families at that time to provide them with the appropriate link and instructions to complete this process.

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Last month, parents who spoke at the board‘s public hearing on the proposal said if the changes were made it would take children away from their friends, affect their social and emotional health, cause safety issues on the road when new student drivers are forced to travel farther to school and cause upheaval in families,

Carrie Bley, of Holly Springs, spoke at Tuesday‘s meeting and previous meetings to urge board members to think about how their decisions impact students and families, many of whom moved to certain parts of the county to attend specific schools.

Her husband, Pete Bley, shared those same concerns with the board before Tuesday‘s vote.

“This can do irreparable damage,” he said. “This keeps changing their social network.”

The reassignment plan includes the following changes:

  • Students who were proposed to be reassigned from Highcroft Drive Elementary to Salem Elementary will attend Turner Creek Elementary. That provides families with a more proximate school assignment and helps ensure Salem Elementary doesn’t get too crowded while still relieving crowding at Highcroft Drive.
  • Students who were proposed to be reassigned from Brassfield Elementary to Wakefield Elementary will now remain at Brassfield.
  • Students who were proposed to be reassigned from Fuquay-Varina Middle to North Garner Middle in Draft 1 of the plan will attend West Lake Middle. That provides families with a more proximate school assignment while still relieving crowding at Fuquay-Varina Middle.
  • A northern portion of the Highcroft Drive Elementary base that currently is undeveloped will be reassigned to Carpenter Elementary and Alston Ridge Middle. That will help prevent future overcrowding at Highcroft Drive Elementary.
  • Currently undeveloped land will be added to the Fuquay-Varina High base. That will help ensure a healthy school population at Fuquay-Varina High. The draft 1 proposal would have reduced Fuquay-Varina High School to 69% capacity in 2023-24.

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