Wake County Schools

As a new teacher for Wake County Schools, Vasti Rodriguez earns one of the highest local salary supplements in the state.
Jess Clark

Schools faced teacher shortages as students returned to the classroom last month. School districts across the state have different challenges when it comes to finding teachers, depending on where they’re located.

Rural districts, most of which offer lower salaries than urban districts, can find it especially tough to recruit new teachers, but they’re coming up with some creative solutions.

high school students
Vancouver Film School via Flickr/Creative Commons

Wake County School leaders hope to spend millions over the next few years to help support their high-poverty schools.

Officials identified 12 “high-needs” elementary schools earlier this year that will receive extra resources like professional development and more pay for teachers.

“One immediate need that we saw in a lot of the schools had to do with vacancies,” said Cathy Moore, Wake's deputy superintendent for school performance, at a recent school board meeting. 

WUNC File Photo

Wake County officials are drafting new plans to reassign some students next school year.

School reassignment has been one of the most contentious topics in the Wake County school system. Officials didn't make any assignment changes last year for the current school year because only one new school opened up.

But 17 new schools are slated to open in the next few years to keep pace with the fast-growing county.

“Twenty-two babies are born every day in Wake County hospitals,” said school board member Christine Kushner. “That’s a kindergarten class born every day.”

Police Training

The Wake County Public School System has proposed a new agreement with local law enforcement regarding the use of police inside the schools.

School Resource Officers are local law enforcement patrolling the county's 26 high schools and 33 middle schools, one to each school.

The school board discussed publicly for the first time Tuesday night a new "Memorandum of Understanding" -- or MOU -- that would require specialized training for officers who will work with public school children. The agreement also requires more rigorous reporting of SOR-student interactions.

Married couple Tracy and Britt Morton, both teachers at Apex High School, explain why they are leaving their current teaching positions. They spoke at a Wake County Schools news conference Thursday.
Reema Khrais

 An alarming number of Wake County teachers have resigned midway through this school year,  according to school officials. More than 600 teachers have left their jobs since July 2013, an increase of 41 percent from last year. Many critics say the current legislative policies and flat pay scale are discouraging teachers from staying the classroom. Listen to the full report below: 


Wake County schools currently serve more than 2,000 preschool children.
Sarah Gilbert via Flickr

Wake County school officials say they hope to expand pre-kindergarten services by adding more than 200 slots for next school year. 

Superintendent Jim Merrill is asking the Board of Commissioners for $39 million in local funding, with about $1.5 million directed toward hiring more teachers, assistant teachers and special education experts. 

The state's NAACP along with other civil rights groups held a press conference Thursday afternoon outside East Wake High School.
Reema Khrais

A group of parents, students and civil rights organizations filed a federal lawsuit against the Wake County School system and local police departments, alleging that the school system’s policing practices “violate the constitutional rights of students.”

The complaint claims that the police officers who work in Wake County schools unlawfully punish students and criminalize exceedingly minor misbehaviors such as “throwing water balloons, stealing paper from a recycling bin and play-fighting with a friend.” 

Interstate 40 traffic
Dave DeWitt

The reconstruction of the Raleigh Beltline is likely to have a huge impact on the Wake County School system.  About 20 percent of schools may be forced to change their start times and bus routes next year.

Though construction is not expected to reach its peak until late 2014, Wake County school administrators and board members are already considering what changes they may need to make.

David Benbennick via wikimedia commons

The chair of the Wake County school board says the board will consider county commissioners' request for more authority over school construction.

For at least the past 11 years, Wake County commissioners have tried to gain control in the design and maintenance of schools. Just this week they passed a proposal - asking the school board if they can at least share the responsibility.

school bond
Dave DeWitt

The Marching Trojans from Garner Magnet High School aren’t marching this morning – they are sitting, and practicing, in the band room. Their bags and instrument cases are stacked in every corner of the tiny space, on pockmarked floors and against cracked walls.

After band class, many will make their way across a grass-less, uncovered field to the temporary, modular cafeteria. Or as they call it here, the “Trailer-teria.”