The WakeEd blog is devoted to discussing and answering questions about the major issues facing the Wake County school system. How will the new student assignment plan balance diversity, stability, proximity and stability? How will Jim Merrill replace Tony Tata as the new superintendent of the state's largest district? How will voters react to a $810 million school construction bond referendum on Oct. 8 ballot? How will this fall's school board elections impact the future of the district?

WakeEd is maintained by The News & Observer's Wake schools reporter, T. Keung Hui. While Keung posts information and analysis on the issues, keep us posted on your suggestions, questions, tips and what you're doing to cope with the changes in Wake's schools.

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Mark Savage named 2013 Wake County Principal of the Year

Mark Savage was named the 2013 Wake County Principal of the year on Thursday and Teresa Caswell was named Assistant Principal of the Year.

Savage has been principal of Heritage High School in Wake Forest since it opened in 2010. He has worked in Wake since 1997, starting as an English teacher at Leeesville Road High School before becoming assistant principal and later principal of Wakefield Middle School and principal of Wakefield High School.

Wake NCAE calls for teacher walk-in instead of teacher walk-out on Nov. 4

Wake NCAE is urging teachers to hold a walk-in and not a walk-out on Nov. 4 in response to the issues facing the state’s public schools.

As noted in today’s article, Wake NCAE President Larry Nilles said he’s proud of the work done by organizers of the proposed statewide teacher walk-out. But Nilles said that actually holding the walk-out would antagonize parents. Instead, he said holding a walk-in and meeting with the public after school would do more to transform public schools.

“We are proud of the work that the organizers of the Nov. 4 walk-out have done,” Nilles told Wake County school board members on Tuesday. “They drew attention to the frustrations of public school employees and the damage done to public schools during the 2013 session of the North Carolina General Assembly.”

Wake County school board members thank voters for passing school bond issue

Wake County school board members were repeatedly giving their thanks Tuesday to voters for passing the $810 million school construction bond issue.

As noted in today’s article, board members took time during Tuesday’s meeting to say how much they appreciated the trust the community was giving them in passing the bonds. To a person, every board member gave his/her thanks.

“On behalf of the students, teachers, faculty, staff and this board, we are grateful for your support and your trust in us for that vote,” said school board Chairman Keith Sutton.

Wake County school board purchases land for elementary school for Brier Creek

The Wake County school board voted Tuesday night to purchase one site for an elementary school in Cary while rejecting a site for a second school.

The board agreed to pay $2.77 million, or $125,000 per acre, for 22.163 acres on the western side of Pleasant Grove Church Road north of its intersection with I-540 in Cary. Located near the border with Durham, this school is located right on the edge of the E-38 ring to serve students in the growing Brier Creek area of northwest Raleigh.

To look up more info for the site, check the Wake County PIN numbers of 0757-37-2807 and 0757-37-4999.


Based on the level of interest in the land purchase, click here to view what the school board voted on Tuesday night.

Wake County CTE High School and Lincoln Heights Elementary School principals named

The Wake County school board appointed new principals on Tuesday for three schools.

Ashlie Thompson was named principal of the school system’s new career and technical education high school that will open next summer at the former Coca-Cola bottling facility in South Raleigh. Thompson, currently a director in the magnet program and a former high school assistant principal and teacher, will receive a salary of $91,161.

Todd Baulch was named principal of Lincoln Heights Elementary School in Fuquay-Varina, starting Nov. 4 with a salary of $74,270. Baulch has been an assistant principal at Hunter Elementary School in Raleigh since 2012.

Vicki Perry was named interim principal of Rolesville Elementary School through Nov. 15. Perry retired as principal of Harris Creek Elementary School in Raleigh earlier this year.

Wake County school board on teacher tenure and other issues

Here’s a recap of what’s taken place so far at today’s Wake County school board meeting.

The most heated discussion took place about how Wake would have to implement the new state law eliminating teacher tenure. Like other districts, Wake would have until June 2014 to offer 25 percent of the teachers a four-year contract that comes with $4,000 in raises over the next four years.

The contracts can only be offered to teachers who have tenure, called career status in North Carolina. If they accept, they’d voluntarily give up their career status.

Wake County school board dealing with bond aftermath and other issues today

Expect a lot of thanks to be given to the public during today's Wake County school board meeting as the school district takes various actions to follow up on last week's approval of the $810 million school construction bond issue.

During the work session, the board will get a staff update on the real estate acquisition process and market conditions. At the regular meeting, the board is scheduled to vote on buying land for an elementary school in the northwest Cary/Morrisvlle area (E-33) and an elementary school in the northwest Cary/Brier Creek area (E-38).

Also during the work session, staff will brief the board on the schematic designs for Scotts Ridge Elementary School in Apex and Abbotts Creek Elementary School in North Raleigh, both projects that depended on the bond passing last week. During the regular meeting, the board will vote on agreements that will result in Abbotts Creek being part of a site that includes a school, a community center, a park and an EMS facility.

Talking about what the new Wake County school board may be like

What will things be like for the new Wake County school board that has seven registered Democrats, an unaffiliated member who used to be a Democrat and a registered Republican called a RINO by some critics?

As noted in Saturday’s article, members of the new board and their supporters say the partisan fighting will end and the board will be able to focus on student achievement instead. But critics say they worry the new board could become just like the pre-2009 board and ignore dissenting opinions.

School board Chairman Keith Sutton said you can’t assume the new board, which takes office in December, will be in lock step on everything.

Looking at Wake County's plans for starting the new school construction program

Now that the $810 million school construction bond issue has been approved, the Wake County school system has plans on getting the new construction program moving forward.

Joe Desormeaux, the assistant superintendent for facilities, said they’re going to use some of the $43.8 million in bonds the county sold earlier this year to get things going. That would tide the school district over until bond funding becomes available fall 2014 after the county commissioners approve a tax increase in the 2014-15 budget in June.

Right now, Desormeaux said five new schools – Scotts Ridge Elementary School in Apex, Abbotts Creek Elementary School in North Raleigh, the M8 middle school in northwest Raleigh, the H7 high school in Cary and the H8 high school in Garner – and the renovation of Green Elementary School in North Raleigh are all in design.

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