Following intense lobbying from parents at Daniels Middle School, the Wake County school board has agreed to only reassign 73 out of 170 students into the school.
Citing crowding issues, the board agreed to move in 73 students from Leesville Middle to Daniels. But the board killed plans to move in 97 students from Centennial, East Millbrook and West Millbrook middle schools.
Staff had recommended bringing in those 170 Southeast Raleigh students both to relieve crowding at Leesville and to send kids closer to home.
But parents at Daniels objected, saying they didn't have the classroom capacity. They said it would force them to start lunch even earlier than 9:28 a.m. They said they could only take up to 100 more students.
So far, those are the only moves that have been pulled from the plan. They're up to No. 13 on the handout.
I'll get into more detail later.
Laura Evans, senior director of growth and planning, opened things up by talking about how the 170 students are part of a feeder pattern effort to send the Walnut Creek Elementary nodes to closer middle schools and high schools.
Evans said they've been very cautious about moving students into downtown magnet middle schools so many area children aren't assigned there now. She said she's working hard under the comprehensive plan, using the Beltline as a guideline, to have more children going to schools proximate to their homes.
Evans said that as part of the pending magnet school review that she needs to know what the ratio should be between base and magnet students at schools. While she said that many magnet schools are close to 50/50, some are not close at all.
Upon questioning from the board, Evans picked up on the lunch issue cited by Daniels parents. She said they had done some investigating, producing this handout of lunch times by middle school.
Evans said that even if Daniels got all 170 students, the school's enrollment vs. cafeteria seat turnover rate would be in line with other middle schools.
While Evans said she's been playing phone tag with Daniels' principal, she said she had spoken with the school's cafeteria manager. Evans said she was told that Daniels has "significant breaks in times" between lunch periods.
Evans said they believe that Daniels can adjust the lunch schedules to take the 170 extra students without, as some parents claimed, start lunch even earlier.
School board member Keith Sutton asked if they could send more of Walnut Creek's nodes to Carnage Middle instead. Evans said they've pretty much used up all the seats at Carnage without taking away magnet slots. She said that 13 of Walnut Creek's 23 nodes are slated to go to Carnage with 10 going to Daniels.
Sutton then suggested sending more students to Centennial or Moore Square middle schools. Evans pointed back to how they're looking at the big picture of how to send more students inside the Beltline to proximate schools.
Evans also said that the capacity they listed for Daniels is wrong. It should be 1,292 and not 1,344. But she said that if no one grandfathers that Daniels would have 1,271 students next year.
Board member Carolyn Morrison brought up egress concerns with the carpool and bus lanes at Daniels. She said she wanted to minimize the impact on Daniels, where she had gotten a lot of complaints about traffic in the past.
School board chairman Ron Margiotta asked about sending more students to Martin Middle. Evans said there are some nodes around Martin that don't go there that they want to look at sending as part of the comprehensive plan.
"There’s a bigger picture for downtown," Evans said. "The recommendations staff are making today will fit that bigger picture.”
Summing things up, Evans said they don't think Daniels has a capacity problem.
Noting that the egress routes are fairly new and were approved by the City of Raleigh, Don Haydon, chief facilities and operations officer, said he didn't see how they could improve things.
The board proceeded to then only vote on the Leesville Road Middle to Daniels moves, which was defeated 6-2 with only Chris Malone and Deborah Prickett voting yes.
The board ultimately decided to send the 73 Leesville students because it's meant to relieve crowding. It was noted that Daniels parents said they could take up to 100 new students.
But the moves from Centennial, East Millbrook and West Millbrook middle schools were put on hold because they're feeder pattern related.