Wake County Schools

Guilford County fourth grade math teacher Diana Watson scopes out the shelves of donated markers and highlighters at the Guiford Teacher Supply Warehouse.
Jess Clark

Guilford County second grade teacher Nicole Batts-Elder scoped out shelves stacked with spiral notebooks, multicolor folders and bundles of unsharpened pencils at the Guilford County Teacher Supply Warehouse on a recent afternoon.

Thomas Favre-Bulle / Flickr

About one out of ten black students in Wake County’s Public Schools were suspended last school year, according to an annual report presented to Wake County School Board members on Tuesday.

Black students accounted for 63 percent of Wake’s total suspensions, while making up about of fourth of the overall population. Black students also made up 59 percent of Wake’s individual suspensions.

Wake County Superintendent Jim Merrill said the report shows investing in Wake schools has economic benefits for the county.
Jess Clark

Investment in Wake County schools is increasing property values, job growth and spending according to a study out of N.C. State. Wake schools and a local nonprofit called Wake Ed Partnership commissioned N.C. State researcher Mike Walden to conduct the study.

A picture of a sale sign in front of a home.
myguysmoving.com / Flickr

The switch to a year-round calendar for 22 schools in Wake County may have hurt some home prices, according to a new study out of Elon University and RTI International. It looked at how home prices changed after Wake made a controversial decision in 2007 to convert 22 schools to a year-round calendar.

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. 

Classroom
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
Nashville.gov

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.”

STEM
WCPSS

A unique high school with a focus on science, technology, engineering, and math will officially open its new building today. The Wake N.C. State STEM Early College High School is designed to serve students who would be the first in their families to go to college. 

John Tedesco
Wake County Public Schools

The past few years on the Wake County School Board have been marked by controversy. Republicans came into power in 2009 and board member John Tedesco led the charge to eliminate the school assignment program, sparking outrage and national attention.

wake bus
Dave DeWitt

Most traditional-calendar public schools open their doors to students starting this morning. In Wake County, all will be on its extensive transportation system.

Last year was, by most anyone’s standards, a disaster for the bus system in Wake County. Hundreds of students were late for school, stranded at the wrong bus stop, or simply not picked up. It came about because buses were removed from routes to save money when implementing a choice-based student assignment plan.

Y.E. Smith Elementary School visit the Nasher Museum
http://www.flickr.com/photos/nashermuseum/ / Photos by Duke Photography

During the last several years, you may have heard the phrase "School-to-Prison Pipeline" pop up in conversation. It will often be used in discussions regarding the "Zero Tolerance Policy" and armed resource officers in schools. What the school-to-prison pipeline refers to is a number of policies and practices in place that push children from schools into the criminal justice system.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools police patch
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

Wake County’s sheriff, Donnie Harrison, is urging the School Board to create its own police force.  Harrison made the comments as part of a report to the Wake School Board on school security.

He says school security issues are more important now, six months after the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut.

Wake School Bus
Dave DeWitt

Tonight, the Wake County School Board will continue its discussions on hiring a superintendent.

It’s been more than two weeks since the three finalists for Wake Superintendent visited the district for a hectic few days of interviews and public appearances. Wake School Board Chair Keith Sutton initially indicated a new superintendent would be hired within a few days, but delays have pushed it back to tonight, at the earliest.

  County School Boards have long since been in charge of school construction. However, the Senate recently passed a bill that would hand over school construction to county commissioners in 10 North Carolina counties. Many people who oppose the bill argue that county commissioners may have experience building prisons but not schools. This is one bill out of many that have been progressing through the Senate recently.

School bus
Dave DeWitt

The search for a superintendent for the Wake County Schools enters an important phase today, as public meetings begin.

The meetings serve as an opportunity for anyone and everyone to express what qualities they’d like to see in the next superintendent. The meetings will last three days and include stops in Cary and Raleigh.

  In North Carolina, when you purchase a handgun, your gun permit goes into the state's public records. Recently, however, Republican lawmakers have sponsored a bill that would remove this information from public access. Today on The State of Things we speak with local experts about the struggle between the first and second amendment.

Democratic leaders on the Wake County School Board say Tony Tata's leadership style led to his firing as superintendent. 

Gurnal Scott: Members of the Democratic majority gave some reasons for their vote in a news conference yesterday. But they declined to give specifics. Board chairman Kevin Hill pointed to what he says were operational failures.

Kevin Hill: We've had a disastrous start to the school year in implementation of our assignment plan beginning with the first week in July. We've had a mess with transportation.

Tony Tata
Wake County Schools

The Wake County School Board is looking for a new superintendent. The board's Democratic majority fired Tony Tata yesterday after less than two years on the job. They said little about their reasons. But Republicans blame partisan politics.


Gurnal Scott: A precariously-placed hammer over the head of Wake County Schools Superintendent Tony Tata..finally dropped.

Kevin Hill: At this time I look for a motion from the board to approve the separation agreement between the board and Mr. Tata.

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