Magnet schools are becoming an important part of the 2011-12 Wake County student reassignment plan.
As noted in today's article, school board members are facing requests for new magnet programs while also balancing how to provide both community schools to Southeast Raleigh students and enough seats at magnet schools. The decisions the board finally makes will be heavily scrutinized.
Let's start with the calls from parents at York Elementary School to become a magnet school. They're talking about having a global leadership and science theme.
At both public hearings on the reassignment plan last week, parents argued that it doesn't make sense to leave York at only 73 percent of capacity. They said an influx of magnet applicants would fill up the school and also possibly relieve overcrowding in the Leesville area.
Noting that there are no magnet schools in District 7, parents said York would be more convenient for families to attend than to go all the way to Southeast Raleigh for a magnet school.
The board also heard last week from parents at Daniels Middle School who say they don't have the cafeteria capacity to handle 170 additional Southeast Raleigh students.
The Daniels moves are part of staff's attempt to deal with the nodes they're now recommending be sent to Walnut Creek Elementary in Southeast Raleigh. Staff wanted to send the middle school and high school students to a closer school without taking away magnet seats so they recommended sending them to Daniels.
In addition to the crowding issues, Daniels parents said that another influx of high-needs children could cause families in the base to opt for charter schools or private schools instead. This argument should sound familiar because it's a reason the magnet school staff had given for unsuccessfully urging that Daniels, located near Cameron Village, keep its magnet program.
The Daniels parents say the board should either leave those students at their current schools or send them to the Southeast Raleigh magnet schools instead.
Magnet capacity in Southeast Raleigh is also an issue in the Walnut Creek Elementary School calendar debate.
In the original three-year plan, staff had recommended opening Walnut Creek on a year-round calendar like all new elementary and middle schools. But staff is now recommending that Walnut Creek open on a traditional calendar.
School board member John Tedesco wants Walnut Creek to open on a year-round calendar so as to gain extra capacity to assign students there without sending them to magnet schools. He says that families who want out can go to Bugg Elementary, which has the space.
But school board member Keith Sutton wants Walnut Creek to be a traditional-calendar school, citing the problems that low-income families have had finding affordable childcare in the year-round calendar. He says parents who want the year-round calendar can apply to East Garner Elementary, which has the space.