Parents tour new Willow Springs high as reassignment plan is discussed

Wake County News

FUQUAY-VARINA, N.C. (WNCN) — Tuesday night the halls of the future Willow Springs High School weren’t packed with students, but rather parents asking questions about plans to move their children to new schools over the next two years.

It’s the latest step in the Wake County Public School System’s effort to address overcrowded classrooms and schools at capacity in a rapidly growing county.

“We have about five or six other facilities that are significantly over 100 percent of their capacity that we’re looking to try and reduce because not only are they currently over capacity but they are in high growth areas,” said Wade Martin, the WCPSS Assistant Superintendent for School Choice Planning and Assignment.

The 2020-2021 reassignment proposal includes changes for both the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years.

 Two new schools will open to keep up with growth; South Lakes Elementary in August 2020 and Willow Spring High School for only 9th and 10th graders in August 2021.

Tuesday night, Wake County schools held an open house at the future Willow Springs High School so parents could tour the building and learn about what courses and extra activities will be offered.

Martin said this is the first time they’ve unveiled a reassignment proposal two years in advance to give families time to plan.

“We felt like this would give this community down here the opportunity to meet with transportation, academics, student assignment, and board members to answer questions about why we are planning to do what we’re doing,” he said.

WCPSS says while most of the proposed changes relate to the opening of the two new schools, other changes will address overcrowding and fill under-utilized schools. Students will be able to request to grandfather and stay at their current school.

Byer Hill says his two eldest children will be eligible to grandfather to stay at Holly Springs High School, but without transportation provided by the school.

Hill says Holly Springs High School is so close to his neighborhood, they hear the band play on Friday nights. However, under the proposal, his daughter would have to attend another school further away.

“It will be more of burden to get her to school in the morning and pick her up,” Hill said.

Proximity was a concern expressed by several parents Tuesday night, as well as switching from traditional school calendars to year-round calendars.

Muthuraman Kasiviswanthan said families in his White Oak neighborhood are opposed face both issues with the reassignment plan. He understands overcrowding created by rapid growth is a problem, but doesn’t want his children to be part of the solution.

“You should not take an established community and move us. Instead of actually taking new people who are coming into that and assigning them to the schools,” said Kasiviswanthan.

Staff members will present a draft 2 to the school board for discussion on November 5. 

A public hearing will be held on November 19 before a final vote is expected on December 3.

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