Knightdale’s top elected officials met with the Wake County School Board chairman Ron Margiotta recently to discuss programs aimed at boosting academics at Knightdale High School.
The discussion comes as Knightdale 100, an organization designed to promote academic excellence in schools in eastern Wake County, has turned its emphasis away from magnet schools to other innovative programs designed to promote academic excellence.
“We met to bring him up to date on the efforts of Knightdale 100 and to encourage his leadership and the board’s continued interest infinding solutions to academics in eastern Wake County, particularly at Knightdale schools,” said Joe Bryan, a Wake County commissioner who lives in Knightdale.
Bryan said he Margiotta, Knightdale Mayor Russell Killen met at Cinelli’s Restaurant in North Hills mall in Raleigh on June 29.
“He’s very supportive,” Bryan said. “He said he’d be willing to take the lead between the school board and Knightdale 100.”
Bryan noted four board members and Acting Superintendent Donna Hargens attendance at recent Knightdale 100 forums.
Knightdale and East Wake High School lag behind other high schools in the county on SATs and end of course testing. Knightdale 100, a grass-roots movement of parents and educators, wants to change that.
Knightdale 100’s Catherine Dameron said after a recent forum on magnets, members of the organization began to shift their view on just how tenable a magnet would be for Knightdale High School.
“Chris Malone, (Wake County School board district one representative) had originally asked us to identify what type of magnet we would like there,” said Dameron. “Our purpose is to educate the community on the type of magnets and if they would like a magnet at all.”
Dameron said after Wake County magnet coordinator Dr. David Ansbacher spoke at a Knightdale 100 forum on magnets, thinking began to shift. Before the forum, the organization had put up a petition on its web site and received more than 100 signatures calling for a magnet school at Knightdale High, Dameron said.
Dameron said the goal is attract the 540 students in Knightdale attendance nodes who attend magnets back to Knightdale High School. Knightdale High School has more students in its attendance district attending magnets than any other high school in Wake County.
“Magnets pull from a large range,” Dameron said. “Once we get our base kids back, there’s no where else to pull from. Broughton lost their magnet for that very reason that the base wanted to go there. I don’t know if a magnet’s the right way to go. We want a specialized program there.”
Knightdale Mayor Russell Killen also said a magnet would not work at Knightdale High School. He said Wake County’s “academy” model with a math, science, or bio-science academy that could reach as few as 20 students and as many as 50 is an idea that he, Bryan, and Margiotta discussed as a possibilty.
Wake-Forest Rolesville High School has a construction academy. Apex High School has a computer technology academy, Sanderson, a finance academy and Southeast Raleigh High, an engineering academy.
Other ideas include a leadership academy, and an in-school suspension program, Killen said. Dameron said one idea being discussed is participating in a science, technology and math program through some type of partnership between Wake County Schools and N.C. State.
"We all agree that eastern Wake County got the short end of the stick, and we need to address that,” said Malone. "We want to do the right thing. “We don’t want to sit on it. We can’t let this languish. We’ve got to act on it.”