So how are the various Wake County elementary and middle schools putting their money for small schools, Global Schools and STEM programs to use?
As noted in this Sunday North Raleigh News article by Chelsea Kellner, the principals at the schools getting the extra resources say they are busy solidifying the programs in each school's culture.
Those getting small schools money now have additional staff and full-time art, music and PE specialists. Previously, they only had enough funding to bring those specialists in three or four days a week.
In addition to student enrichment, principals say that having the specialists full time gives more opportunities for regular classroom teachers to do lesson planning, work one-on-one with remedial students and collaborate with other faculty.
At the Global Schools, they focus on global culture and foreign language learning. Foreign language instruction is still the exception rather than the rule at Wake elementary schools, especially non-magnet schools.
For instance, the Global Schools program at Jeffreys Grove Elementary has students start with learning about their own community in kindergarten. As the grades go by, students expand to learning about the country, the continent and the rest of the world.
"It's been a great focus for our school and a nice way to set us apart," sad Jeffreys Grove Principal Lisa Cruz. "We do have so many schools in a small area, but what's special about Jeffreys Grove, you can't get at the other schools."
The STEM schools have focused on science, technology, engineering and math. For instance, York Elementary has been working with local engineering and technology professionals, including N.C. State University faculty, to grow the program.
As noted in this North Raleigh News article last month by Chelsea Kellner, the renamed Hilburn Drive Academy is keeping its STEM focus while also getting the Global School program.
Hilburn will offer a choice of either Spanish or Mandarin Chinese twice a week starting in kindergarten, as well as an integrated arts program. Current strategies also call for middle school science and technology labs at a new mobile unit behind the school.
How these various new programs pushed by Superintendent Tony Tata will fare under the new choice-based student assignment plan, budget woes and the new school board majority remains to be seen.