Unfortunately, it’s become an all too familiar scene in recent years. At a meeting to discuss the first draft of the Wake County Public Schools School Assignment plan, parents from western Wake County pleaded to school officials not to assign their children to a school outside of their local neighborhood.
According to WCPSS officials, the assignment plan is needed to alleviate overcrowding and help fill four new schools: Green Level High and Alston Ridge Middle School in Cary, Parkside Elementary in Morrisville and Southeast Raleigh Elementary.
I have long opposed the school reassignment policies believing the benefits that accrue from children attending neighborhood schools far outweigh the supposed benefits that come from a more economically and racially diverse district.
At Monday’s meeting an official – who I assume was from WCPSS – made a presentation that referenced WCPSS’s expected enrollment growth over the next six years (2017-18 to 2023-24) to be 14,564, or 2,427 new students each year.
I have long complained that WCPSS growth estimates are too high (see here and here and here). Last year, the News and Observer offered some justification for my position when it reported, “Wake County saw its’ smallest growth in 34 years, gaining only 880 students while charter schools grew at nearly double that amount this school year.”
I’m hoping such realities influenced the size of this fall’s school bond referendum. Initial estimates were around $1 billion. Voters will be asked to approve $548 million for WCPSS school construction, renovation and technology projects.
Still it’s disappointing to see WCPSS ignoring the facts and refusing to revise its overly optimistic growth projections. Having only a third of projected student enrollment growth translates to a lot of empty seats to fill – and a lot of anxious parents.