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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Things didn't go as planned for the school board on Thursday.

The board held a lengthy closed-session discussion on the ongoing dispute with Cary over road improvements near Panther Creek High. It's holding up the approval needed to use modular classrooms on campus.

The board's plan was to return to open session for an explanation on television of the school district's side of the case. There was only one problem.

The board walked back into the main board room to find the lights and sound off. The crew from Raleigh Television, which records and broadcasts the meeting, had left for the night.

Jumping back a bit, here's a quick recap on the issue.

Cary has required the school system to construct an additional northbound through lane on N.C. 55 from McCrimmon Parkway through the intersections of the ramps at N.C. 540 because of the installation of the modular classrooms. It’s expected to cost $1.4 million.

The school system asked for a waiver from doing the work. Cary Town Council members said in November that they couldn’t legally grant an exemption.

Town staff was told not to approve the site plan for certificates of occupancy for the modular units until the school system committed to do the road work.

Amid the growing complaints from the school system, the Town Council extended an oliver branch two weeks ago. The Town Council agreed to give the school system up to three years to start the work and four years to complete the project.

It still wasn't enough for the school board.

After Thursday's closed session, school board members said they want to meet with the Town Council to resolve the fight.

School board members said they want to at least mitigate the cost. For instance, Lori Millberg asked if they could get some kind of break by allowing only seniors to drive on campus.

(That suggestion was met with a laugh from Cary Town Councilman Don Frantz in an interview after the school board meeting. He said the school system can use the modulars once they sign the bond to start the work.)

Unless it's resolved soon, the modulars might not be ready at all this school year. They were originally supposed to be ready before classes started in August.


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user1234--were your kids at

user1234--were your kids at magnets?

Can't put all the blame on the multi's..........

We just can't put all the blame on the multi's for growth. Don't forget to throw some at the NCGL for not allowing multi's and county's to charge "impact" fees. And if you really want to point fingers, never forget the "Friend of Wake County" and all the money they have to throw around.

And why do they throw all that money around? Simple, invest a dollar on the politicians that do as they are told to do, Mayor Ernie being a perfect example, and they will make 20 dollars in the long run. Politicians are nothing more than investments by the people who paid for them to be there. For example, Wake Dems put up $60K to make sure that Loriberg and Goettee got elected on the run-off races. Why? Especially if the races are supposed to be non-partisan.

Just follow the money, especially the money from "Friends of Wake County."

This local election "non

This local election "non partisan" nonsense... something voters should pay attention to, but then again, when do voters actually pay attention to the truth behind anything?


"Politicians are nothing more than investments by the people who paid for them to be there."


Is that why Norwalk is commissioner now? He was supported by some members of the school board, WakeEd Partnership and Ann Goodnight herself.


Stan was elected partly

Stan was elected partly because of the Republican backlash.  People just wanted anything that did not look like what we endured for the last eight years on a national level and the anger filtered down to every level of government. 



Wup, I'd be surprised if


I'd be surprised if we ever hear from the FOWC'ers again.  Two reasons:

1. The day after the bond passed their web site folded.  So much for wanting to be involved in improving our schools.  I think they would be too embarrassed  to reactivate.

2. In 2006, the illusion of good schools allowed Wake County to continue to grow at a healthy rate.  Three years later after continued inept leadership of this school board, the illusion is gone.  Money magazine dumped Cary from their list, specifically because of schools.  That was just the first chink in the armor.  I don't think the FOWC'ers would support any of the four board members up for election, because it would be bad for business.  Growth has dried up and now we have to compete with the rest of the country.  Hard to do that when your school system sucks.

We could ONLY wish

but, you could be right.  Ann's been SO busy running her PetHotel, you know the one that she allowed to lose its 5 star rating, so maybe that element alone will keep her from showing her lying mug to the people she LIED to EVER again!

Aren't 2 of those 4 not running next go round, or has that changed too?  Since they've done SUCH a good job and all!


NOt only are you rude, arrogant, and a bit scary, but you don't have your facts straight or you are just spreading rumors for the sake of it.  Yet all the 'others' on there turn a blind eye to your rantings.  How does that jacket fit g88 and how do those white walls look. 



Your hyperbole spillth over

Actually, VoR, myself and others are on record regarding calling out our friend on his antics, but the irony of your calling on this is too rich to miss.

Kettle; meet pot.

Missed a comma - Dad of 3

Saw this on my RSS feed and couldn't figure out what you were saying... thought you were talking about me.

BL- a comma after "myself" would have made it clearer.



you and your buddy won't change the reality that MOST in this chaos don't like YOU or people like YOU!

You're the kind of nut that simply can't STAND or DEAL with rude, arrogant, scary and FED UP people like me!

GOOD!  We like it that way!


And yet you still didn't defend the fact that you were full of crap.  But everyone knows that.

Is that a leak

coming out of your ears?

Poo runs downhill you know and I'm pretty sure it's leaking out yo' ears!

Take your BS back to Patti, Lori and Ann and you guys do lunch again to plot your next move!

Enjoy the fish, I hear it's good over there!

Are you two married?  You

Are you two married?  You go at it pretty good.  LOL.

"Money magazine dumped Cary

"Money magazine dumped Cary from their list, specifically because of schools."   

Green Hope was just listed at the one of the best high school in the US which is not too bad.



yeah, that makes GHHS one of

yeah, that makes GHHS one of the top 604 high schools in the country!  Wooohooooo!  We have no schools in the top 100, none.  In a county like this that is inexcusable.  D-oh! forgot that you think that our priority is that all schools be average and equal.

"Average and equal"....

"Average and equal".... .love the Mudge!

Chapel Hill

One thing I noticed that was that Chapel Hill High does twice as as well on College Readiness and preparing disadvantaged students so there is room for improvement.



Hmmm, Chapel Hill.....

Hmmm, Chapel Hill..... Smaller, more locally controlled district with better student peformance

Take a look at...

Their F&R and their impact fees.  They fund schools and thye have very low F&R across the board.

Well, on one hand we have

Well, on one hand we have Del Burns and the WEP telling thumping their chests about the "world class" school system we have.  On the other hand, you are making excuses for how poorly we perform.  Do you then agree that Del and WEP are full of it?

“On the other hand, you

“On the other hand, you are making excuses for how poorly we perform. 


Cary, it does not really matter to me.  My kids received a wonderful education.  They were in wonderful schools, with great friends and teachers.   They were a year ahead of where I was in math and science for their grade and I am an engineer which seemed like a good benchmark though I don’t know where the Korean and Chinese kids, who are the future competition, are now.  What the WCPSS scores are … is interesting …. But I think locally (my family) and love what I have and what we have experienced.  I don’t know if WCPSS reputation hurt or helped my kids in their college applications.   I will say, I do wonder if we should have moved to Chapel Hill which offers more AP classes but my kids have been accepted by great colleges so I don’t know if it mattered.  Also, given that it costs $7,000 a child for public education which is less than I pay and most of the people making up the difference don’t have kids in the system, I am thankful they make that sacrifice. 


If your kid’s school is bad, I am sorry and there is no excuse for it.   If WCPSS is touting high system scores and your kid’s school is being camouflaged by fancy reporting that is wrong too.


So, it's interesting that you should bring up the "great college" thing.  That's actually a pretty big disappointment for me, and I'm still not sure how the Sconce family is going to deal with it.

I've been around WCPSS high school students for a while and I have not been particularly impressed with where they go to school.   Most of them go into the state university system, where most of the schools are not very highly regarded.   Sure, there's Chapel Hill, but the next best (NC State, I suppose) is not particularly well-regarded outside the state.   [All based on US News rankings.  Not trying to start a State v. Carolina thing.]  The state schools really win on price, but not really on quality.

The big exception appears to be Enloe where a sizeable portion go to schools like MIT, Stanford, Carnegie Mellon & Duke.   That quality of program should be available throughout Wake County.

Regarding testing, the EOG testing is a farce because there's no real way to compare students with students in other states.  Why don't we just outsource the testing by using the Iowa Test of Basic Skills?  Why does NC think it does testing better than the other 49 states?   That seems to me to be a no-brainer. 

  “Why don't we just


“Why don't we just outsource the testing by using the Iowa Test of Basic Skills?  Why does NC think it does testing better than the other 49 states? 


I don’t know if every other state has adopted the Iowa test?  Also, many conservative groups believe that national tests like the Iowa test will lead to national curricula like in communist countries which will be controlled by the national government who might insert subliminal messages about abortion, religion, morals, etc.  So, if you use the Iowa test you need to use the Iowa curricula.   It’s been a long time since we used these since they are required by the state for homeschooler … but I one test measured achievement and another measured cognitive ability (Stanford?) … we used them all to find weaknesses in what we were teaching … but than again, my wife’s bonus did not depend on the kid’s results …


Every other state has not adopted Iowa.  My point was that there are 49 other states with their own tests.  There's no reason to believe that NC can do any better, and lots of reasons to believe that it doesn't do as well.

I'm conservative and have no problem with using what another state does.  As long as the National gov't doesn't try to dictate what to do, it's fine by me.


It is the Democrats who have

It is the Democrats who have a stranglehold on NC education that have a problem with standardized tests, not the conservatives.

I took the Iowa Tests as a

I took the Iowa Tests as a child and was taught Wisconsin curriculum - did just fine.


I am totally with you on

I am totally with you on this... As far as I know, Ligon is the  only MS which participates in MathCounts. Similar with Enloe and High School competitions.   We love our house, friends, commute, just everything but how much longer we can stay without hurting our kids' future...

Ahhh - so your kids are out

Ahhh - so your kids are out of WCPSS now.  So you have little or no experience with the nightmare the classrooms have become for any child that gets it quickly.  There is far too much teaching to the test and very little challenging of the students in the base elementary schools.  For us out in the county, where admission to a magnet program is nigh on impossible, we lose sleep over the fact that our children aren't getting the education they need to get them into college (like your kids were able to).  From my perspective, the focus should be on the curriculum not the diversity - the BOE is supposed to focus on education. JMHO.

They have very low F&R across the board

If adverse fortune is always an excuse for lower performance continued adversity will be the fate.

When faced with adverse fortune there are two choices:

1) use it as an excuse for failure or 2) use it as motivation to work toward something better

Only one of the those options changes fate.

Maybe I am where I am in life today because the 45% F&R district that educated me didn't fall back on option #1. I'm SO tired of hearing about the 28% district wide F&R rate here as an excuse. 

Falc - The F&R is not an

Falc - The F&R is not an excuse.  GHS has the lowest % of any school in the county but the few they do have perform better than similar students in the rest of the state according to US News report.  More encouraging is that Chapel Hill HS has a much more diverse population and even does better with high needs students.


As far as being an excuse for the rest of the county doing so poorly, I don’t think anyone blames them or makes excuses for their performance.  The issue is dispersion.  With 30% High Needs kids in the county, you might expect schools to vary from 20% to 40% range.  So, when politically connected schools have very few HN kids it seems unusual.  We know these kids are not in some ghetto being bussed from across town because the distribution is county wide with rural areas having quite a few.  The concern is that when some schools come out of a reassignment with very few high needs kids and some schools with most of them, people start to feel the process is not fair and that more politically connected neighborhoods are getting an advantage.


I am glad you came from a humble background and are successful now.  You may be able to offer some recommendation on how to address improving high needs kid’s scores better than others.  But I am guessing you were not warehouse in the “poor” school to keep you out of sight like can happen here.

Here we go again with the assumptions

That’s nice for GHS. However, there are also examples of low F&R schools where the F&R segment does not outperform the district or state and examples of higher F&R schools that do outperform.“I am glad you came from a humble background and are successful now. But I am guessing you were not warehoused in the “poor” school to keep you out of sight like can happen here.”I am inferring from your comment (BTW inference is a skill that they are trying to figure out how to teach kids) that you are assuming that I was F&R. I was not F&R. I did live in some high F&R areas. My ES school was 60-70% F&R and MS and HS were probably around 45%. My point was that had my district accepted failing schools because it had a higher F&R population, I would have gone to failing schools. None of the students were “warehoused”. They were/are taught at the closest or next closest (for capacity, not diversity, balancing) school no matter what their F&R status or whether the school was 40% or 80% (which is likely why the 40% and the 80% school receive the same report card grade). There were some exceptions in cases where families had moved within district to another school assignment area but wanted their “higher needs” child to stay at their original school for stability. Stability, hey, there’s a concept. Yes, yes, I know that in a growth area some reassignment is inevitable, but not to the level that WCPSS takes it. I do not see the need to reassign a string of six kids, some F&R and some non-F&R, because one new seat opened.“You may be able to offer some recommendation on how to address improving high needs kid’s scores better than others.”While I was not F&R myself, I had a lot of personal interaction (and not just sitting next to them in class) with kids who were, so yes, I have some thoughts in this area. Why do you think I want to see a change in WCPSS’s approach and attitude related to this issue?

There is one...

Raleigh Charter High, at #20.

Of course, that's outside of the control of WCPSS. 

 I agree with your point -- if we're one of the top 25 biggest districts in the country, we ought to have 2-3 schools in the top 100.


Let's take a look

At Ron's 'contributions' and then you can tell me this is supposed to be non-partisan.  It goes both ways Wuptdo.


Don't get me started on FOWC!

Come out, come out where ever you are Ann and Ed.  Got any more lies to spread???

You _x!_ -xkjdhfiuehr sosbdsfds _m'ghrt(*^^$@(...........

Don't go Postal-G88

I hope you don't keep having bad days like this or the whole nation's eyes will be on you.

Since we haven't had a "postal" incident recently I'll link to where the term "going postal" originated from to explain, BTW I used to live there. 



No worries!  I'm much better today, knowing YET ANOTHER group is being formed to single handedly solve our problems.

;c )

Breathe g88.... breathe. 

Breathe g88.... breathe.  Others out here are living the pain, too.  Think about that and breathe.

Once again....

Once again, I told them so. I have been preaching to the BoE for years for the need to build BIGGER schools. But no, they just won't listen and then knew in the case of Green Hope, Middle Creek and Panther Creek High Schools that they were going to add tailors.

You get what you elect and all that you all have been electing have been a bunch of morons or losers.

(FYI - I was told once by Dr. Beavers the reason why they don't build bigger High Schools has to do with high school sports. Geez, I thought the purpose of schools was for education).

WHAT?  Oh no, that needs

WHAT?  Oh no, that needs furtuer follow up.  They don't build bigger high schools because of sports?  Last I looked, it's the same amount of players on a team weather they are from West Johnstion HS or Panther Creek High School.  What do sports teams have to do with the size of a school? Or the price of tea in China?

 Man, I think maybe WCPSS went to the "Bloggo" School of Administrative Doublespeak.

Well, if they build one

Well, if they build one 5000 student HS it won’t be in a conference with anyone in the county and will need to travel to Charlotte? to find a comparable school of that size.  Oh, I can hear the complaints about “bussing” costs now.


The N&O ran a story on building bigger schools like Gwinnett County which are twice what we have.  There are plusses and minuses – travel, isolation, and variety – that voters need to decide on.   But with say two huge HS – one in Raleigh and one in Cary – we would not have to worry about reassignments and there would only be two teams play ball each weekend.

Modular Nightmare

I think we shoudl push for a law that mandates a five year max life for modulars. We all know they are not temporary. There are some districts that outlaw them completely. When capacity is discussed for planning purposes, modular capacity should not be in the equation. Yes they may be nice inside, but they are not as safe, not as energy efficient, and tax the primary school infrastructure. If the city were shrinking their long term use would be OK, but it is not. I also don't mind them for unplanned growth short term or even a temporary campus, but long term is out of the question. Ask yourself, if they are the way to go, why do we build permanent classrooms in schools in the first place? And of course all the "well it's cheaper" crowd doesn't take in account life cycle costs. BTW- They are not that cheap to buy or to site. Also ask yourself why onearth do new schools get modular units shortly after they are built? My 2 cents. Cudos to Cary.

Voice, I agree that

Voice, I agree that modulars should have a limited purpose and life.   I could see where we would build up four schools to 20% over capacity with modulars while building a new school , reassign the kids to the new school and flush the trailers at the old schools with the new school starting life at 80% of capacity.  My guess is that the people would not vacate the trailers once they got squatter’s right on the school though.


I agree that the life cycle cost of trailers is probably high but most people only think about the here and now.  For example, the MacGregor folks were elated to see another trailer add to Apex HS so they could keep their kids there.  People associate so deeply with a certain school that they don’t seem to mind the facilities and as long at the trailer is on the school’s property they are happy.  


There you go again count to 4 (AKA ncdad1/user1234/Troll)

You want to have it both ways. Do you think these local schools are just filled with the locals?  Look at Wakefield (ES,MS,& HS), they are overcrowded and WCPSS still buses them in to get their precious "diversity" (AKA grade equalizer for enforced school mediocrity).

Voice, seriously, help me

Voice, seriously, help me out ...




It looks from the distance map, most kids live within 6 mile radius of the school.  Which kids are getting bussed that you don't want.  Is it the 200 kids 8 miles out? 



Not the primary issue

The primary issue is the school is already overcrowded and WCPSS is busing from outside areas. Schools should be built near the population base. If necessary, local government should use eminent domain to add on to schools or acquire new property if they cannot find a suitable location. For Wakefield High WCPSS is dealing with this issue albeit a little late. They actually haven't done too bad a job adding a 9th grade center by converting an old Winn Dixie when they ran out of trailer space. Now Wake Forest Rolesville will relieve the pressure. The big problem is growth needs to be lead turned, i.e. you need to build bigger than the need at the time and when you start getting near capacity you need to build bigger or site new schools. But as far as busing goes, I don't have a big problem with it at MS and HS since classes are for the most part by ability grouped.  

My biggest gripe is in Wakefield Elementary, where they have 21 trailers still and they built TWO new elementary schools a little over a mile away. Why didn't they move the trailers? Why weren't the new schools built bigger? Now they use the excess capacity at WES to bus children in from high F&R areas. So the school was not helped at all building the new schools. And to top it off it was converted to MYR the year before the two new schools were built.

VOR - talk about hitting

VOR - talk about hitting the nail square on the head here! Great post.

Parents should be OUTRAGED ... heck, TAXPAYERS should be outraged!  Modulars, trailers.. are a smoke screen for the WCPSS Board and admin. inability to correctly plan. NOw,  elementary schools, I can see.  You don't really know how many kids are coming up, but middle and high schools?  How in the the name of  Pete can they not calculate the population of rising elementary school kids that will filter in to middle and high schools?  HOw did they underestimate the capacity of Panther Creek and HSHS?  Both new schools had trailers taking up parking lot space by the third year they were open?!

I don't get it?

Can anyone explain that to me? 

Any development or

Any development or expansion of development in Cary which generates over 50 peak hour vehicle trips is subject to a traffic impact analysis and is required to make any traffic improvements identified in that analysis. Council cannot legally waive this requirement. Cary's adequate public facilities ordinance (APF) has been on the books for years and WCPSS knows that when they construct a new school or add modulars (we all know they are never temporary) they may be required to make roadway improvements. In the past Cary has agreed to pay for these improvements in an effort to help WCPSS. The most recent was Cary agreeing to make $1.3 million in required roadway improvements associated with the new Alston Ridge School. This time however, given budget constraints and we are unable to bear this burden. Since 2000 Cary has given over $64 million dollars to WCPSS in the form of cash, infrastructure improvements or land. In regards to Panther Creek alone in 2003 Cary gave WCPSS $1,424,240 to help purchase the 71 acres Panther Creek occupies, and in 2006 Cary spent $2.5 million to construct the McCrimmon Parkway extension from the proposed Western Wake Freeway to NC55 to provide access to the school, including the construction of 2 full access drives into the school. Cary contributes more to Wake County for schools than any other municipality in the county - including Raleigh. According to the school board's chair these are "county" schools and not "neighborhood" schools. Therefore the county should bear some of the responsibility for roadway improvements. Cary cannot and should not bear this burden alone.


Don Frantz

Cary Town Council District B


Thanks, Mr. Frantz, for providing the factual details to this situation.


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About the blogger

T. Keung Hui covers Wake schools.