This Discussion channel is currently closed.

UPDATE 12/04: The address look-up tool has been updated to reflect all assignment changes.

UPDATE 12/03: The board approved assignment changes for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years. The only change made today from Draft 2 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. The address look-up tool will be updated to reflect this change tomorrow and then shared with all families in the district.

On Nov. 5, staff presented the Board of Education with Draft 2 of the student enrollment proposal.

The Draft 2 proposal was developed after staff and board members considered feedback and questions from parents gathered over several weeks, both online and at three Open House information sessions.

Here are the changes made from Draft 1 to Draft 2:

-Draft 2 Change: Students who were proposed to be reassigned from Highcroft Drive Elementary to Salem Elementary in Draft 1 are now proposed to attend Turner Creek Elementary.
Purpose: Provides these families with a more proximate school assignment and helps ensure Salem Elementary doesn’t get too crowded.

-Draft 2 Change: Students who were proposed to be reassigned from Brassfield Elementary to Wakefield Elementary are now proposed to remain at Brassfield. Staff plans to make a revised recommendation next year.
Purpose: Draft 1 split the River Run neighborhood. 

Draft 2 Change: Students who were proposed to be reassigned from Fuquay-Varina Middle to North Garner Middle in Draft 1 are now proposed to attend West Lake Middle.
Purpose: Provides these families with a more proximate school assignment.

-Draft 2 Change: A northern portion of the Highcroft Drive Elementary base that currently is undeveloped is proposed to be reassigned to Carpenter Elementary and Alston Ridge Middle.
Purpose: Will help prevent future overcrowding at Highcroft Drive Elementary.

-Draft 2 Change: Adding currently undeveloped land to the Fuquay-Varina High base.
Purpose: Will help ensure a healthy school population at Fuquay-Varina High. Draft 1 proposal would have reduced Fuquay-Varina High School to 69% capacity in 2023-24.

What’s next?

-Draft 2 marks the final recommendation from staff. Any changes to the proposal going forward would come from the direction of the school board.

-Parents can continue to use our online forum to share feedback and ask questions. Board members and staff will continue to monitor the forum as they work toward a final plan.

-Community members will be able to address the board directly during a public hearing on Nov. 19 at 6 p.m.

-If necessary, the board will discuss any additional changes at a work session on the afternoon of Dec. 3. A final vote is expected at the regular board meeting starting at 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 3.

-Find the thread related to your proposed assignment below. There you can ask questions and provide feedback.

 

As a reminder: We welcome feedback and questions on this site, but please be respectful. We encourage you to remember that others love their school as much as you love yours. Questions and comments that focus on academics and logistics are helpful to us and to other parents. Personal attacks and, of course, vulgarity have no place in this discussion and will be deleted. We encourage you to find out more about any school at this page. Better yet, visit schools. The benefit of visiting a school greatly outweighs any information you can glean from a single letter grade or third-party web site. Thanks in advance for your feedback – critical or not – and other helpful contributions to this forum.

Proposal: Draft 2 recommends sending some students from Highcroft Drive Elementary to Turner Creek Elementary; Middle school students in the same area now attending Mills Park Middle would be assigned to Salem Middle.

Purpose: Reduces overcrowding at Highcroft Drive Elementary and Mills Park Middle. Proposing sending to Turner Creek to give current Highcroft Drive families a more proximate option. 

32 Responses

Default_avatar
Renuka Sirigiri about 1 month ago

Hello, Though it says kids assigned to HDE will move to TCE and not Salem, the address look up still shows as Salem, please see attached file. Has the address look up tool not updated yet? Thank you, will appreciate any clarification on this matter or an update address look tool link will be helpful too.

0 Votes
Default_avatar
Matt Dees admin about 1 month ago

It had not been as of last night. Here is the new lookup. https://wwwgis2.wcpss.net/addressLookup/proposalSecondDraft/index.php We soon will be notifying everyone via email.

0 Votes
Default_avatar
Renuka Sirigiri about 1 month ago

Thank you Matt, its reflecting the correct schools now.

0 Votes
 
 
 
Default_avatar
Tim Riley about 1 month ago

First I’d like to thank staff and board for hearing our concerns, and providing an alternate option which addresses proximity, and potentially stability. I do still have concerns about growth in the Turner Creek and Salem MS zones (particularly Salem MS) and how that will affect Ashley Woods in the relatively near future, but instead of going through another month of stress and work for myself and my children, I’m going to hope and assume that the board and staff are putting us into the schools that they feel will be the most stable moving forward, so that current Ashley Woods residents with school aged children can avoid any more changes in the remainder of their time in school.

I do still have a few points that I’d like to make in regards to Highcroft. This is not because I’m looking for the decision to be reversed (see above), but to provide more clarity on WHY we were removed on Highcroft, which I think as affected families, we deserve answers to. I would appreciate a reply to those that are questions, as I’ve asked some of them before (multiple times) and received no response from the staff, or our district board representative.

  1. We were told that the main driver for removing Ashley Woods from the Highcroft zone was to remove trailers from Highcroft, particularly ones that sit on instructional space. I have yet to get an answer regarding how many trailers will be removed from Highcroft as a result of this year’s re-assignment . Bill Fletcher did state last year during a work session that no trailers would be removed as a result as last year’s proposal (same as this year’s in regards to Highcroft). Has this changed? If not, will more neighborhoods be removed from Highcroft in subsequent years? It’s a lot easier to understand taking a mere 39 kids out of a school if the overall plan is to remove more kids in the future. I’m happy to be part of a solution, but not happy to be singled out and moved to less stable schools for something that won’t provide a solution.

  2. I personally know multiple families who were admitted into Highcroft this current school year, while the school was capped. If the school is in such a desperate state of overcrowding that it makes sense to uproot 39 children from a neighborhood that’s been attending the school for 15 years since it opened, why are we letting new residents who are capped out into the school? If a school is capped, it should be capped, period. I don’t like to inject emotion into these posts, but I’d be lying if I said that didn’t frustrate me that families who arrived after the cap will go to Highcroft while we get moved out because of apparent overcrowding. Why does this happen?

  3. I would hope moving forward that the staff and board start taking into consideration other factors besides just geographical location and boundaries created by roadways. Age of neighborhood and tenure at their current schools should play a role in making decisions for re-assignments; maybe not a primary role, but it shouldn’t be ignored. When you have a 20 year old neighborhood singled out for re-assignment that’s been attending a school for 15 years since it’s opening, maybe it’s worth looking at something like an apartment complex 0.5 miles down the road, where the residents are generally there temporarily, and don’t have as much invested into their home, neighborhood, and schools. Same goes for newer construction neighborhoods. I understand this can’t always happen, but if it makes sense from a geographic standpoint, a transportation standpoint, etc, then I feel an older neighborhood with more invested residents should take precedent.

Again, I’m not looking to change any minds at this point, but as someone who tries to stay informed I would appreciate a response to the above, for my own clarity and understanding. I’m sure others have the same questions as well.

Thanks again for your time.

-Tim Riley

9 Votes
 
Default_avatar
Brenden OHara about 1 month ago

Greetings and once again I’m thankful for the opportunity to comment and ask questions. I’d like to understand how the Salem MS capacity projection for 2022-2023 (88%) is essentially unchanged from 2018-2019 (87%) given the area growth and number of incoming transfers. I believe it’s critical to understand the data as the schools we were slated to be reassigned to last year are now not even a true traditional application option bc they’re so full. If the area is too dynamic to accurately predict the impact of reassignment changes, then I urge the board to hold reassigning these few handfuls of children until the true impact of the the actions from the past 2 yrs and numerous developments under active construction are better understood. After already going through 4 calendar changes at HDE, imposing another without a clear gain is unnecessarily disruptive and frankly unfair. The 10-15 year stability that our children and schools have benefited from is unique in this area and it deserves respect and careful consideration.

4 Votes
 
Default_avatar
Hailey Theile about 1 month ago

I appreciate the Board and Staff taking the time to listen to our neighborhood’s concerns about stability and proximity under Draft 1. I feel that this proposal did address many of those concerns, and it also ended up addressing cohort/feeder pattern concerns from last year’s proposal.

Turner Creek is a 3 minute .9 mile drive from Ashley Woods. It is the closest elementary school to us, and I believe our proximity to it offers more longterm stability. With Salem ES, we were the only small satellite of kids detached from the base, and I believe there was a high chance that we would have been reassigned again in a few years when the crowding from 1,000 homes currently under construction in their proposed base becomes a problem with this K-3 class size legislation.

Turner Creek also provides a larger cohort and cleaner feeder pattern than past draft proposals, since the majority of the kids there track together: Turner Creek ES>Salem MS>Green Level HS.

I know many of my neighbors are disappointed that our neighborhood was unable to stay in traditional calendar schools. Staff’s slide showed the many different calendars Highcroft has been on over the years. And this will be yet another calendar change these families will have to endure. It is unfortunate that staff was unable to reinstate last year’s traditional calendar schools. I know Staff said during the Board Work Session that they need to leave Green Hope ES open as a proximate overflow school for cap out/crowding issues arising out of Horton’s Creek (capped) and Alston Ridge (crowded).

I mentioned this to Glenn Carrozza during the Salem Information session, but I will say it again here, whatever it is you plan on doing, please just do it. I cannot fathom having to go through the stress and anxiety of fighting assignment changes for a third year in a row.

As always, nobody wants to be reassigned and Ashley Woods would prefer to be left alone in our current schools Highcroft>Mills Park. However, I did feel that this proposal addressed many of the stability, proximity, and cohort/feeder pattern concerns expressed by our neighborhood. Currently, Turner Creek Elementary is the year round application school for Ashley Woods. I know that there are several year round families in our neighborhood who are currently rejoicing that they don’t have to leave Turner Creek ES.

Thank you all again for your time and hard work on this proposal.

5 Votes
 
Default_avatar
Christa Townley 28 days ago

I echo everything that Brenden O'Hara stated above and couldn't have said it better myself. With all of the building in this high growth area along with transfer students, how is Salem Middle School's capacity only increasing 1% between 2019 and 2023? Matt, could you please explain this? For example, the community of Westford slotted for the Salem schools, has over 400 homes.

4 Votes
 
Default_avatar
Chengmin Huang 28 days ago

I am a member of the same neighborhood Ashley Woods, and I have the same concerns/questions as Mr. Tim stated. I am waiting for the answers as well, and I hope there is somebody can help us understand why the reassignment happened on my neighborhood, and how the decisions were made.

Everyone knows the over-crowded situation, but the question is why my neighborhood must be moved out from the current elementary and middle schools. We just have few handfuls of children there and we've been assigned there for many years. Families in the neighborhood contributed a lot in the past, and kids build up close ties with the schools. Please let us know why? We want to stay!

Reassignment is painful for the kids and the families. Any work should respect their needs, and try the best to reduce the negative things, or avoid hurting them too much. Did the staff or member talk about the equivalent schools? As of the elementary, Green Hope and Davis Drive are not caped. As of the middle school, Davis Drive is not caped neither. These schools have similar performances with our current base schools, and closer to our neighborhood.

Reassigning to different calendar (Turner Creek), or different city with long time traffic (Salem in Apex), are not good options.

So, based on the tradition, calendar, distance, convenience, please consider as of the following:

Highcroft Drive Elementary (we want to stay there) or Green Hope Elementary or Davis Drive Elementary //

Mills Park Middle (we want to stay there) or Davis Drive Middle //

Green Hope High (we want to stay there) or Green Level High or Panther Creek High//

It is just from my personal opinion. Thanks for looking and appreciate for any feedback.

3 Votes
 
Default_avatar
Tim Riley 27 days ago

For anyone interested in answers to my above questions, after weeks of getting no response from our district board rep and this forum, I was able to get a couple answers from another board member:

  1. No trailers will be removed from Highcroft as a result of this re-assignment.

  2. Just because a school is capped, doesn't mean that all students will be capped out. A cap number is set, and only when that is exceeded are children capped out. The cap number is a whole school number, and individual decisions are based on the grade level of the child (ie K-3 may have a more difficult time getting in due to class size legislation). In a nutshell, some students who have moved to the Highcroft/MP zones after the caps were implemented are being let into the schools even though there is such overcrowding urgency that 39 kids from Ashley Woods must be removed and moved to a higher growth and less stable zone that will ultimately have the same issues as the zone we're coming from.

I have also inquired multiple times about the data behind why Ashley Woods was chosen for this re-assignment if the goal is to reduce enrollment at Highcroft/MP. I have gotten no answers outside of "because the board has directed us to remove kids from Highcroft", or "the reality is that neighborhoods closer to the borders of assignment areas are the most likely to be reassigned". There are multiple other neighborhoods on the borders of the zone that would have a higher impact on reducing enrollment and greater transportation efficiency than our neighborhood. Until I see data that proves Ashley Woods is a better candidate versus these other neighborhoods, I'm going to assume that darts were thrown at a map. I'm a pretty reasonable guy - just give me valid data-driven reasons why Ashley Woods was chosen for re-assignment and I'll be happy.

7 Votes
Default_avatar
Christa Townley 27 days ago

It just seems logical to me that if the Board truly wanted to make a dent in enrollment numbers they would target denser, newer neighborhoods instead of Ashley Woods that has 18 students in Mills Park Middle currently. For example, the new neighborhood of Lennair at Amberly-Glen with 283 lots that is basically dirt right now, is assigned to Mills Park Middle. Given its location and proximity to Alston Ridge Middle, why is a newer neighborhood given priority over a 20-year existing one?

4 Votes
 
Default_avatar
Matt Dees admin 27 days ago

You are correct that we do not plan to remove trailers from Highcroft in 2020 if the proposal is approved. We don't know about 2021 or beyond. Ultimately the goal, as stated by the board, is to remove trailers from instructional space at Highcroft Drive.

As for your last point, Ashley Woods is the southernmost neighborhood in the current Highcroft base, which made it the closest to Salem as proposed in Draft 1. Turner Creek, the Draft 2 proposal, is even closer. Proximity is always a consideration, along with operational efficiency, when we make assignment change proposals.

0 Votes
Default_avatar
Tim Riley 27 days ago

Ok so we finally have determined that we won't be removing trailers from Highcroft, which is what we were told was the main reason for re-assignment this year.

If that's the case, why aren't you focusing on larger neighborhoods that actually COULD remove trailers? Because as has been mentioned many times, there's other neighborhoods that would have better transportation efficiency, just as short of a commute to Turner and Salem, and would make a much more significant dent in overcrowding than a mere 39 kids from Ashley Woods. Call me crazy but I'd think fixing the actual problem would be more important than having a pretty looking assignment map.

Lets just tell it like it is....please. Tell us what the long term plan is, and stop treating us like we "just don't understand the big picture". I want to understand the big picture and what your plans are for the Highcroft zone for the next 5 years. Please fill us in.

Again I'm happy to be PART of a solution, but I'm not happy with being singled out and moved around due to lack of planning or foresight.

5 Votes
 
 
 
Bootstrap_1837045086332873
Amy Licata, Dr. 27 days ago

I feel that with the release of Draft 2 of Student Enrollment Proposal early last week, the results were still unfavorable for my Ashley Woods neighborhood. Optimistically, I would like to think perhaps the School Board did not have adequate time to process all of the useful information from my neighborhood posted on this forum prior to the release of Draft 2. Therefore, I hope the final plan will be more favorable for us and allow us to remain at our consistently zoned neighborhood schools, Highcroft Drive Elementary (HDE) and Mills Park Middle School (MPMS).

Currently, no decisions have been made on enrollment capping at this time for the 2020-21 school year. I am in favor of enrollment caps for schools as a true solution for assignment of schools. I applaud the Board of Education for placing enrollment caps. These caps are a brilliant way for the school system to try to shift the burden of growth onto newcomers, who are responsible for the overcrowding, instead of existing families, like us. These newcomers have come to the area to capitalize on the excellent schools of HDE and MPMS, which my neighborhood has helped create.

HDE and MPMS were built for our neighborhood, which existed prior to these schools. We did not move to this area because of some school rating on a website. We have spent numerous years building relationships with HDE and MPMS, where the staff and faculty are like extended family. Ashley Woods has loyalty, seniority, and stability at HDE and MPMS.

My neighborhood feels that just because you can do something does not mean you should. As we all know, this is a huge data mining endeavor that should require years of analyses, rather than changing reassignments every few years. As a Ph.D. Research Statistician, I also do not understand why the School Board is choosing such a small sample size of 39 students who happen to live in Ashley Woods, which does not make an impact or statistical significance to relieve the overcrowding in HDE/MPMS. Those schools will still be overcrowded, if we are reassigned. Also, this does not improve transportation efficiency.

I would hate to think that the School Board would just need to check a box that something was done, which would not be substantial to the overcrowding issue.

Thank you, Amy C. Licata, Ph.D.

6 Votes
 
Default_avatar
Sroda Porter 27 days ago

Thank you for the opportunity to allow as to post on this forum. With that being said, I would hope that our complaints will be taken into consideration this time. I agree with what my neighbors have stated. I would like to know why a small neighborhood like Ashley woods with about 50 children in Highcroft Drive Elementary and Mills Park Middle respectively would be chosen for these reassignments. I also do not understand why Green Hope and Davis Elementary that were in last year’s draft could not have been a choice again for reassignments. New developments such as brickyard across whole foods has been assigned to Mills Park Middle. How would you feel if you have been in a community for about 20 years, the schools were built for your children and you have invested time and money to give the school the recognition it deserves, only to be moved by newcomers due to “overcrowding”. Moving about 18 kids from a school that has about 1750 students (MPMS) will not make a difference statistically. The neighborhood right across us (Landownes) are not affected, yet they outnumber Ashley woods in population. Our children have gone through many changes and are going to be face another calendar change to year round once again. This is very disruptive to the children and frankly unfair. Please let the children stay at their current schools. If not please give us back the choice of Green Hope elementary and Davis Drive Middle. They are closer in proximity than Salem Middle and also traditional in calendar year. Thank you, Sroda

1 Vote
 
Default_avatar
Hailey Theile 26 days ago

I think some of my neighbors would like to understand how we work into the bigger picture of actually relieving Highcroft crowding issues. Are we a stopgap while the Board looks into removing other denser parts of Highcroft’s base that would actually enable cap removal, trailer removal, and overall crowding reduction? I know we are easy to move since we are the least dense neighborhoods in Highcroft’s base, but are we part of a larger plan to actually fix the Highcroft crowding problem while the Board tries to find a place to shift these denser areas? Are there new elementary or middle schools planned for this area or white oak within the next 10 years?

I know our calendar application elementary school is Green Hope Elementary. It does look like less than half of their population is from their base, and the majority of kids attend this school as their calendar application school.

Is there a reason that Davis Drive Middle wasn’t made our calendar application middle school? Green Hope Elementary and Davis Drive Middle are in the same feeder. This was the assignment from last year that we asked for, but Staff said they were unable to provide because they want to hold Green Hope for Alston Ridge and Horton’s Creek overflow.

Could the Board at least change our calendar application school to Davis Drive Middle? And give us back the proposal from last year as our calendar application options? Apex Middle is twice the distance from us as Davis Drive Middle. This seems like a very small ask. I know a lot of my neighbors were really hoping to get back the traditional calendar options from last year’s proposal (Green Hope ES>Davis Drive MS) if we could not stay at Highcroft>Mills Park. Staff numbers for Ashley Woods/Branton/Overlook in these drafts: 50 elementary, 35 middle. We are talking small numbers here.

1 Vote
 
Default_avatar
Tim Riley 26 days ago

In an email with a board member, I asked the following questions:


Can you elaborate on why larger neighborhoods were not considered, especially when it makes more sense from a transportation perspective? Are you saying that location on a map takes precedence over stability and efficiency? Why take 39 kids and rearrange a bus route, when you could take 100+ kids and drag and drop a single bus route?

Again I just want to understand the logic here. We've been told we're being moved to remove trailers and caps. Neither of those are happening. Please explain why the smallest neighborhood in the Highcroft zone was selected, and why we're being moved from one of the slowest growth zones in Western Wake to one of the most rapid growing, creating more instability for our neighborhood that has had plenty of it spread out over the past ten years.

Thanks Tim


The response I received was:


Mr Riley,

For the details that you are looking for, you need to inquire of the student assignment staff.


It's concerning to me that the school board members (who have to make final approval on this proposal), are unable to answer these questions. This doesn't give me confidence that there was a whole lot of thought and planning put into this. The goal and reasoning behind this re-assignment should be very clear. It's not clear to those of us being re-assigned, and it appears that it's not clear either to the decision makers.

So I'm here looking for answers since I'm not sure of any other way to contact assignment staff. I'd like to know what the plan is for the Highcroft and Mills Park areas for the next several years, and I'd like to know how this year's very small re-assignment will assist in reaching those goals. I'd like to know why such a small group of students is being singled out, when we're told there's such a large overcrowding problem. I'd like to know why moving Ashley Woods makes more sense from a transportation or operational efficiency standpoint than other neighborhoods that can make a larger impact on overcrowding. I'd like to know what the school zones we are being moved to will look like from a capacity standpoint in the next several years, and why it makes sense to move us from a low growth zone to a rapid growth zone.

These are all valid, reasonable questions that I think any family being moved from a school deserves answers to. I am more than happy to sit down in front of a map with re-assignment staff to get these answers if that's what works best. Please let me know how I can help.

5 Votes
Default_avatar
Matt Dees admin 25 days ago

Tim, we have answered this question. Fully understand that you disagree with the proposal, and the points you are making are feedback the board can consider. At this time, staff does not plan to propose reassigning other neighborhoods or housing developments.

0 Votes
Default_avatar
Tim Riley 25 days ago

Matt, can you point to me where you answered those questions? Maybe I missed it. This forum gets difficult to follow sometimes, especially in the first draft when there were so many posts.

As I already mentioned, I'm not looking for staff to make any changes this year, but if this hasn't been fully thought through then maybe it needs to be delayed until you can look further into how you can actually achieve the goal of reducing trailers and removing caps at Highcroft and Mills Park, because this year's plan doesn't do it. If there are plans in subsequent years that you think will reduce trailers and remove caps, then I would like to understand what those plans are so that I can understand how we fit in. I don't feel this is a lot to ask.

All I want is to understand the big picture and be confident that what we will go through with a school and calendar change will actually achieve a goal. Again, I'm happy to sit down with someone from assignment staff if it's easier.

2 Votes
 
 
Default_avatar
Matt Dees admin 25 days ago

One follow-up: The crowding relief that this proposal would provide would be significant. We may look at some other assignment changes regarding Highcroft in the future. When making these proposals, we try to move as few students as possible. I know that doesn't help you as among those proposed to move, but, again, your neighborhood is the most proximate to Salem as per Draft 1 and now Turner Creek as per Draft 2.

0 Votes
Default_avatar
Tim Riley 25 days ago

I'll respectfully disagree that this is "significant". 39 kids out of over 1000 is not significant, especially when it doesn't actually achieve any goals. Targeting neighborhoods just because they're small is wrong for multiple reasons. My kids have 1-3 kids in their entire class from our neighborhood. Picking up and moving a neighborhood (and ONLY that neighborhood) that small is much more of an impact to the children than moving larger neighborhoods or moving additional neighborhoods. We have no cohort. The unfortunate thing is that when Salem Middle is well over capacity in a few years, guess who the small neighborhood on the very edge of the zone will be?

3 Votes
 
 
Default_avatar
Matt Dees admin 25 days ago

Here is the relevant part of my response from: November 12, 2019 at 3:30pm EST

As for your last point, Ashley Woods is the southernmost neighborhood in the current Highcroft base, which made it the closest to Salem as proposed in Draft 1. Turner Creek, the Draft 2 proposal, is even closer. Proximity is always a consideration, along with operational efficiency, when we make assignment change proposals.

0 Votes
Default_avatar
Tim Riley 25 days ago

I guess I did see that answer, I just assumed there was a little more to it than "you are closest to Salem or Turner as the crow flies". It's unfortunate that there wasn't more thought put into the proposal so that you could actually achieve the goals that you claim are driving the re-assignment. I will assume that there are no other future plans for removing trailers and caps at Highcroft, and that this years move was simply to say you did something.

Wherever you put us, please just make sure it's the right choice between stability and proximity.

1 Vote
 
Default_avatar
Khalil Porter 25 days ago

Matt, please consider my request below. Thanks.

0 Votes
 
 
 
Default_avatar
Khalil Porter 26 days ago

Based on comments from Matt Dees above, I recognize that Ashley Woods is the southernmost neighborhood in the current Highcroft Drive Elementary (HDE) base and is the closest to Turner Creek ES. However, a calendar change is a significant concern for us. Given that the board deems proximity and transportation efficiency a concern, instead of switching Ashley Woods to schools with a different calendar, consider this. Expand the “grandfather” rule and allow all 2019-20 enrolled Ashley Woods students to stay on and advance through the traditional calendars at HDE and Mills Park Middle School (MPMS) through the completion of 8th grade, if we forgo bus service and provide our own transportation. Any new students that subsequently move to the Draft 2 proposed reassigned area and are not enrolled in 2019-20 would be based to Turner Creek ES and Salem MS year-round as proposed for the 2020-21 calendar year and beyond. Thank you for your consideration in advance.

5 Votes
 
Default_avatar
Ann Gooch 26 days ago

Dear Student Assignment Staff and Board Members, I am a parent in Ashley Woods. We have attended Highcroft for 9 consecutive years across our 4 children and have been a part of 22 classrooms during our tenure at Highcroft. Unfortunately, our tenure at Highcroft (and Mills Park MS), our investment in the schools, PTAs, and teacher relationships appear to warrant no consideration when it comes to student assignment . I asked assignment staff why longevity at a school is not considered in these reassignments and I was assured it is considered as part of “stability”. Yet stability is completely missing in this reassignment. After 2 consecutive years of being singled out as the only neighborhood to be moved out of Highcroft, it’s hard not to feel like an inconsequential puzzle piece that is easily moved in your WCPSS puzzle. Especially when the move will not achieve any of the stated goals (remove trailers, restore instructional space, remove cap).

I completely understand moving students to fill new schools.

I applaud staff for moving dirt before students are affected (this essentially is the same as capping / overflow assignments).

But, moving a small group of existing students between existing schools does far more harm than good.
Once a student is enrolled in a school, the school should be “stuck” with that student. Your job as assignment staff and Board members should be to get out ahead of the growth and reassign dirt to avoid or minimize crowding issues without impacting existing students; or roll out reassignment plans to be implemented with new students, not existing students. You must do better for our students and families. It is very frustrating to be pushed out of our longtime school we have invested in when the move won’t achieve any of the stated goals. At the same time, new residents get to stay and even newly enroll.
Also, please re-review your projected student numbers for Salem MS as they do not reflect the huge growth in the base and in Salem Elementary. The resources used to project growth were outdated and more current numbers were brought to the attention of Staff and Board Members during Draft 1; however, the projected growth for Salem MS was not adjusted to reflect this growth. I think the Board should have current, accurate data before making a reassignment decision that affects our students. Please review and update your data sources and adjust the projections before proceeding with assigning students to Salem Middle School. We don’t want to be singled out again in the next reassignment plan. Finally, if you choose to completely ignore stability and data, and proceed with this reassignment plan that will not remove any trailers from Highcroft, and likely move our 18 MS students from one crowded MS to another crowded MS, the very least you could do is provide affected families with the necessary resources for navigating the choices and moves ahead of us. As an example, the traditional calendar application process and period is not currently posted on your website.

5 Votes
 
Bootstrap_1837045086332873
Amy Licata, Dr. 22 days ago

I recently found a local "The News & Observer" Cary article "'Simply fewer children' - Wake County schools see an end to decades of student growth" (January 08, 2019, https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article224029215.html ). From this article early this year, there are three compelling quotes from WCPSS that support my Ashley Woods neighborhood's position that the School Board must not disrupt our stability without understanding the data and its impact. Quote 1: "'It is now clear to the county, the school system and to our municipal planners that we are looking at a new trend,' said Superintendent Cathy Moore. 'This is going to require a review of all of our assumptions.'" Quote 2: "'We have been chasing growth for a very long time, as long as I think all of us have been on the board,' added school board chairman Jim Martin. 'This may give us an opportunity to start doing some of that systemic work that we know needs to be done but have not been able to do because of growth.'" Quote 3: (video) "Approach this as good data scientists," said school board chairman Jim Martin.

I feel that my Ashley Woods neighbors have been approaching this potential reassignment from our long-standing neighborhood schools of Highcroft Drive Elementary (HDE) and Mills Park Middle School (MPMS) as good data scientists. We have posted a wealth of data-driven logic and information both prior and after Draft 2 for our reasons to stay at HDE and MPMS. In my opinion, THIS ARTICLE IS INDEPENDENT EVIDENCE that WCPSS supports my neighborhood's opinion that there needs to be a more thorough analyses of the student data, rather than changing reassignment every few years.

4 Votes
 
Default_avatar
Tim Riley 22 days ago

Matt - is there empty land west of 540 that assignment staff plans to add to the Highcroft zone in the future? Correct me if I'm wrong, but the Highcroft zone as it stands won't see a lot of new growth. You are assigning the small amount of empty land on the northern end to Carpenter, and the empty land west of Ashley Woods/Branton (which we've determined will be majority commercial), could be assigned to Turner Creek. Outside of those areas, is there any expected growth in the Highcroft zone?

We disagree on whether 39ish kids coming out of Highcroft and 20ish coming out of Mills Park would be considered significant - that's fine. But from a planning perspective, there are no new elementary schools or middle schools planned to be built in West Cary in the next 7+ years. With the significant growth occurring south of the Highcroft zone in northwestern Apex area, does it make sense to move kids out of a low growth zone, and into a rapid growth zone? I think with no new schools being built, that removing any trailers or caps are simply unrealistic goals. One of the reasons people move to Wake County is for the public schools, and as kids age out and parents downsize, they will be replaced with more young families. I understand you can't just build schools at will, but school populations will never go down until new schools are built. A school like Highcroft has functioned perfectly fine for many many years with trailers, just like many other schools in Wake County do. Looking to remove caps by shifting kids is futile - all this does is create a very temporary fix, at the expense of childrens' stability. Salem Elementary, Salem Middle, and Turner Creek will all likely be over capacity within 5 years at the most. In fact in draft 1 you said Ashley Woods wasn't assigned to Turner Creek due to expected development in that area, and we all know about the 1000 new construction units in the Salem zone. Moving very small amounts of children out of lower growth zones to try to remove trailers and caps, is not fixing anything long term.

We need to look for a longer term solution instead of this continuous shuffling for temporary relief. Until new schools can be built, all K-8 schools should be converted to year round in parts of the county where there are overcrowding issues. When you move to a high growth area of Wake County you should assume that you will be going to school on a year-round schedule - nobody should be under the impression that they have a choice. Highcroft was year round until WCPSS succumbed to parent pressure to switch it to traditional. I believe Mills Park was built to be a year-round school. We need to stop sacrificing stability in order to cater to some parents' preferences and vacation schedules. It will upset some people in the short term, but is what's best for the county as a whole in the long term. We all should contribute to solving the problem - not just small neighborhoods on the edge of school zones.

Please reconsider all these small temporary fixes in favor of a more long-term solution. Moving Ashley Woods doesn't fix Highcroft or Mills Park even in the short term. All you're doing is setting children up for more instability in the future.

7 Votes
 
Default_avatar
Brenden OHara 19 days ago

Dear Matt, I’m not sure if you or anyone is still monitoring this forum or responding to inquiries. If anyone is out there, I’d like to understand how removing a few handfuls of children from Ashley Woods could even be proposed as a necessary immediate action to address overcrowding when over 70 new students were admitted to HDE and over 150 new students were admitted to Mills Park this academic year. I’d sincerely appreciate a reply as these assignment actions seems to be contradictory and directly oppose what were told is the entire goal of this proposal.

6 Votes
 
Default_avatar
Tim Riley 18 days ago

I am also interested in hearing a response to Brenden's question above, as those numbers are even more significant than I expected.

Through this year's draft process, there have been several inconsistencies when it comes to the Highcroft/MP re-assignment that I would like to make note of:

  1. When Draft 1 came out, the focus was on future growth. "Heat maps" were released which showed rapid growth in the Highcroft/MP zones. These were determined to be inaccurate, as much of the area stated as high growth is slated for commercial development. Highcroft and MP are in significantly lower growth zones than the schools we are proposed to move to.

  2. The focus then shifted to "under-utilization" at Salem Elementary/Salem Middle. Parents pointed out the massive growth planned in the Salem zone, upwards of 1000 approved new construction units. Ultimately Ashley Woods was moved in Draft 2 from Salem Elementary to Turner Creek elementary. In Draft 1 staff stated that Ashley Woods was not assigned to Turner Creek due to expected high growth in the Turner Creek zone. That apparently changed, as we were assigned to Turner Creek in Draft 2. While Turner Creek may not have as much immediate growth as Salem Elementary, Ashley Woods is still assigned to Salem Middle, which will likely be overcrowded in the very near future. None of this provides any sort of stability in the future - much less stability than if we were left in the significantly lower growth zones of Highcroft/MP. Draft 2 projects 3% growth at Salem Middle between 2020 and 2023. This seems nearly impossible when adding 1000+ new construction units, and the board and staff has not responded to any requests to clarify this discrepancy.

  3. We have been repeatedly told throughout this process that the goal of this year's Highcroft/MP reassignments is to remove trailers, re-gain instructional space, and remove caps. At the Salem open house we asked staff how many trailers would be removed from Highcroft/MP as part of this re-assignment. They were unable to answer and pointed us to facilities. When asking the facilities representative, she had no idea how many trailers even existed at Highcroft. For days after we tried to get answers from our district board rep, and staff without response. We were finally able to get confirmation from the chair of the board that no trailers would be removed due to this re-assignment, which contradicts the supposed goal.

  4. As mentioned above, another stated goal was to remove caps at Highcroft and Mills Park. It seems extremely unlikely that removing 40 and 20 kids respectively would have any impact on capping. In fact, we have come to realize that many new residents have been let into the schools this year (and presumably in previous years) while the school has been capped. The number of children that have been let in, far exceeds the number of children in Ashley Woods that are proposed to be removed. These are all children that could have been sent to an alternate school to to relieve crowding, trailers, and eventually caps. Families that aren't already invested in the schools.

After all this, I think you can understand why our neighborhood is questioning the reasoning behind this re-assignment. If we are going to sacrifice stability in the future by moving to a much more rapid growth zone, we'd like to know that we are being moved for a reason, and that a goal is being accomplished. That is not a lot to ask. After all I've mentioned above, the only reasons we now receive are "we think 40 and 20 kids being moved out of Highcroft and Mills Park respectively, is significant", and "Ashley Woods is located at the southernmost point of the zone and is geographically closest to Turner Creek and Salem". These alone are not reasons to move a 20 year old neighborhood who has been attending and supporting these schools since they opened 15 years ago. We should have confidence in the decisions that the staff and board are making, and confidence that the board is doing what they think is best for us long term. As of right now we have neither, and that's really unfortunate.

Finally as I mentioned in an above post, it's my opinion that ALL families should contribute toward to the remediation of overcrowding, and not just small neighborhoods that happen to be so lucky to sit on the edge of WCPSS's drawn school zones. Ashley Woods has gone through three calendar changes within the past 10 years going from multi-track year round, to single track year round, to traditional. Highcroft and Mills Park were built to be year-round schools, and were changed to traditional because of pressure from some parents. Had the board and staff not succumbed to this pressure, we would not be in the situation that we are in today, and Ashley Woods would not be paying the price for these mistakes. Please don't make another mistake by moving us to a massive growth zone, setting us up to go through this again in the near future. Please look at the long term, not the short term. Look at what changes can be made that will make large impacts on overcrowding, and allow for ALL families to contribute to the solution, instead of a select few that get shuffled around from year to year.

Thank you.

7 Votes
 
Default_avatar
Mindy Varkevisser 18 days ago

Dear School Board, Tuesday night I wasn’t able to put my emotions aside and speak to the maps I handed out, or the points I wanted to make.

I currently have a 7th grader at Mills Park Middle School, a 5th grader and 2nd grader at Highcroft Drive Elementary. With Draft 2 we are being reassigned to Turner Creek Elementary and Salem Middle School. My Ashley Woods neighborhood has been around for 20 years with 139 homes and less than 60 students between the two schools we currently attend. I find it hard to see the value in reassigning such a small group of children (about 1.5% of the student population at MPMS, and 4% at Highcroft Drive). Many in our neighborhood have invested a lot of time and money into these schools, including myself. We have been assigned to them since they opened. If we lived further away than some of the new developments coming in I would understand the need for adjusting, but removing us because of new developments that are either further away or the same distance to our neighborhood does not make sense to me. This will not make an impact on removing the cap from Mills Park MS or Highcroft Drive ES, nor will it help fill Salem MS and Turner Creek ES, but it will make a HUGE impact on our lives and the lives of our children.

Mills Park Middle School has been capped since 2014. However, there are several new, large developments that have been assigned to Mills Park Middle as their base school when their year-round option is Salem Middle, which I understand is running far below capacity. These developments started building within the last 2 years, which would mean they were assigned to a school which had been capped for 3 years. They are also 25% closer to Salem Middle School than we are. The maps attached illustrate the area I am referencing. You will see that there is a green area highlighted in Map 1 (Salem Middle Base Map). This is the area that is assigned to Mills Park Middle with Draft 2 and NOT Salem MS. You will also see on slide 7 of draft 2 most of the bottom corner to the west of 55 (with the proposed changes) will be assigned to Salem Middle School, except for this area. I’m not sure why that little piece is excluded and will be assigned to Mills Park when they are NEW homes and our neighborhood has been going there since it opened and they live further!! If you look at the red line on map 1 it would include the developments I am referencing and make a clean boundary for the Salem Schools. Wouldn’t it make more sense and solve more of the problems to move these NEW people to Salem Schools and allow our neighborhood of approximately 20 middle schoolers to remain at their school? These new developments I am speaking about will have 669 homes, they are: The Pines at Wake Crossing: 140 lots
Hunt at Green Level Crossing 140 lots Greenmoor by Pulte Homes: 389 lots

The growth in West Cary doesn’t seem to be slowing down. My concern is that our little neighborhood will be bounced around where ever there is an issue at other schools and will constantly be under threat to be moved every three years. If you look at the data points below and compare the 1456 capacity of Mills Park MS with our This is being implemented to help students achieve academic success, because if a child’s emotional state is out of their resilience zone it has a direct effect on their academics, according to research. In other words, major disruptions to their lives such as moving their schools around can have a negative impact on their academic success.

Some of the goals from implementing the training and practices were to build stronger connections, foster empathy and understanding, and build and foster healthy relationships. My second grader has been visiting the classrooms of the teachers we anticipated she would have the next 3 years at Highcroft for the past 4 years. Her siblings had the same 3rd & 4th grade teachers. She has already started that relationship. She visits them and knows them. She has been going to Highcroft since she was 9 months old. What a stable foundation for her to have healthy relationships! The school staff and many teachers know our family because my children have been strong students, and because of my extensive volunteering at the school. Due to our situation, I spoke with Dr. Pediford after the meeting and told him that our neighborhood was being threatened with reassignment for the second year in a row. I asked him, if the philosophies and material he presented that night have been shared with the Student Reassignment staff or the School Board. He said they had not, but agreed it would be a good idea to do so, because of the adverse effects moving children from their schools can have on their Social Emotional Learning (especially multiple times). If these teachings are being implemented into the classrooms, but not supported by the board with reassignment (short term solutions to long term problems) then I encourage you to take a step back review the data and do what is best for the 1 as well as the whole.

Thank you for your time and all you do for our schools.

Kind Regards, Mindy Varkevisser

Attachments: Map1.jpg
6 Votes
 
Default_avatar
Christa Townley at November 26, 2019 at 9:53am EST

Respected Board Members,

I would like to thank the Board and Reassignment Staff for having a place for all of us to participate in this reassignment discussion and the daunting issues concerning reassignment in this high growth area, as we know this isn't an easy task. However, I am extremely disappointed that the valid, data driven points of keeping our Ashley Woods with 18 neighborhood kids at Mills Park Middle School wasn’t acknowledged in Draft 2.

We have expressed and backed up our many concerns and arguments with valid, concrete data. This proposal doesn’t Alleviate Crowding, Increase Instructional Space, nor does it Address Stability, Proximity or Transportation Efficiency. It is very frustrating having to go through the stress of possibly being reassigned again for the 2nd year in a row, after going through numerous calendar changes during the recent years. Our small, stable, 20 year neighborhood shouldn’t have to bear the brunt of the massive growth and numerous new neighborhoods that are being built, given our 39 elementary and 18 middle school students. Place the burden on the new neighborhoods/students that are creating the overcrowing problem> Our neighborhood accounts for about 1.5% of the Mills Park student populaton and less than 4% at Highcroft Elementary School and reassigning us doesn't achieve any of the goals set forth.

With the boards objective of wanting to alleviate crowding and increase instructional space, this move will not achieve that goal. The current enrolled students should be “grandfathered” to stay at their current schools and the burden placed on the new neighborhood/students causing the overcrowding situation. I would like to understand why the urgency to assign Ashley Woods should even be proposed as a necessary action to address overcrowding, when over 70 new students were admitted to Highcroft Drive Elementary and over 150 new students were admitted to Mills Park Middle this academic year. These assignment actions seems to be contradictory and directly oppose what were told is the entire goal of this proposal.

New neighborhoods for example: Lennair at Amberly Glenn has 283 homes being built and was given a Mills Park Middle School assignment. Why isn’t this neighborhood assigned to Alston Ridge Middle given its newness and proximity to the school? Not to mention the explosion of growth on/near Old Jenks Road in the Salem Schools zone., there are over 900 homes under construction currently. Why would you want to take our kids and put them into a higher growth area? Please re-review your projected student numbers for Salem MS as they do not reflect the huge growth in the base area. More current data has been brought to the attention of Reassignment Staff and Board Members but wasn’t adjusted to reflect this growth. I think the Board should have current, accurate data before making reassignment decisions. Please review and update your data sources and adjust the projections before proceeding with assigning students to Salem Middle School. It is time to do what is in the best interest of our students and their emotional, academic and social well-being. If the data supported the board’s objectives than it would make sense, but it doesn’t. Reassignments don’t achieve a long-term solutions, it just puts a band-aid on the issue and shifts the burden to another school. Does moving 39 elementary and 18 middle school students justify the changes in starting a new school, a calendar change to year-round, increase in transportation time for kids/families, and the social and emotional distress that comes along with it, given that a lot of these kids have been with their schoolmates/neighbors for 10 years (in my case) No, it doesn’t. And, it directly contradicts what Dr. Marrius Petiford from Student Support Services talked about at the District 8 BAC Meeting this past Monday evening: Major disruptions to students lives such as moving their schools around, can and will have a negative impact on their academic successes (Social Emotional Learning).

Ashley Woods has contributed to making Highcroft Drive Elementary and Mills Park Middle the greatly sought after schools that they have become. We have invested our time, energy, money, love and support into each of these schools and didn’t research them online and purposely moved into the school’s area to attend, they have been our community schools for over 10 years and we have helped make them great! PLEASE keep us at our neighborhood schools!

Sincerely, Christa Townley

3 Votes
 
Default_avatar
Tim Riley at December 04, 2019 at 7:26am EST

WCPSS has successfully split apart a small tight-knit community. With the approval vote last night, a neighborhood with 50 or so school aged children who almost entirely attended their base schools for 15 years, will now be split up between a year-round base school, the traditional application school, charter schools, and home schools. All for a goal that the general public is still unsure of.

As an extra bonus, our board representative snuck in a last minute change to our calendar application at the work session last night. A change that she claimed was discussed with our neighborhood, and that we approved. This is a lie, as it was not discussed with the vast majority of the neighborhood (if anyone), including the parents who have been most involved with this reassignment.

The lack of transparency throughout this process has been unfortunate to say the least. The office of assignment continues to allow loads of new residents into Highcroft and Mills Park, while the supposed goal of moving us out of these schools was to relieve overcrowding. From a numbers standpoint, 70 NEW residents have been allowed into Highcroft just this school year, over 150 into Mills Park. Students removed from Highcroft and Mills Park this year via this proposal, around 40 and 15 respectively. Sort of makes you wonder what the real reason for this reassignment is, as removing trailers and caps clearly is not it.

We will likely never know the true reason behind this particular reassignment, as there is clearly much that goes on behind the scenes that even those affected are not aware of.

4 Votes