Wake County Superintendent Tony Tata told school board members today he needs their commitment to implement a $130.3 million construction program that includes two single-gender schools, the K-8 Hilburn Elementary project, a career and technical education school and a science academy.
Tata said he's been talking with multiple groups on the various innovative projects. But he said he needs the board's support now to show others Wake is serious with implementation.
“We need to demonstrate the board’s commitment to those people we’re dealing with daily," Tata said.
Most of the discussion was on the leadership academies, including questions about their demographics and costs. Unlike in Guilford County, Tata said the Wake single-sex schools would not be dramatically different in costs than the other schools.
Tata and other school staff said that Guilford's cost per student at its single-gender schools is double that of its other high schools because class sizes are only 1 to 10. They said Wake's two single-sex schools would be up to 20 students in a class.
In terms of demographics, the goal would be to make them as broad as possible. That's amid concerns the schools could be almost all black like the two Guilford single-gender schools.
A goal in Wake is to attract first generation bound college students as they'd complete the leadership academy with college credit.
All students at the leadership academies would be require to participate in the Junior ROTC program.
The students would go to the nearest high school or middle school, such as Enloe for the boys and Broughton High for the girls, to try out for sports. If accepted on the team, they'd get bus service out there to participate.
Similar accommodations would be made for Hilburn's middle school students who participated at other middle schools for sports.
The male academy would be located at the current site of Longview School. The Longview students would relocate to River Oaks Middle School's site. River Oaks' current students would either go to Mt. Vernon or Phillips High.
Wake would lease the Pilot Mill site formerly occupied by Raleigh Charter High for the female academy.
As for the CTE/vocational school, Tata told board members he was committed to implementing it in the 2013-14 school year. He said he's had preliminary talks with Wake Tech President Stephen Scott about partnership up with them.
The plan was approved on a 5-3 vote with Keith Sutton crossing party lines to give his support.The other three Democrats, arguing they felt the decision on the leadership academies was being rushed, voted no.
Earlier, a motion was defeated 5-4 on party lines to have have separate vote on the single-sex schools and the Hilburn Elementary conversion.