Staff presented the first draft of the WCPSS Enrollment Plan for 2016-17 at the Board of Education work session on Tuesday.
The top order of business is to fill five new schools that will open next fall. Yes – five.
Just like last year, staff worked with the Operations Research and Education Laboratory (OREd) at ITRE/ NCSU. Together they built an optimization engine that generated base attendance areas for the new schools. In other words, they programmed software to identify the best possible base populations for each new school.
The software follows the rules provided and identifies an impact area for each new school. This impact area is where the new school’s base population will be drawn from. It is the area that will be impacted by the opening of the new school. It follows then that limiting the impact area increases stability for students and families.
After filling new schools, the next order of business is to address overcrowded and under-enrolled schools. There are nine schools on this list. Six are overcrowded and three are under-enrolled.
Two changes were made to address neighborhoods that are split and send kids to different schools. Additional changes were made to address calendar alignment to minimize the number of students who experience a calendar change when moving in feeder patterns from elementary to middle schools. This includes changing schools in a feeder pattern and naming calendar options for schools.
The WCPSS Enrollment Plan is available online and the district is seeking input on recommended changes. Your input is valuable and helps shape the plan throughout the draft process. Last year over 2,000 comments helped shape the final plan that was adopted by the Board of Education.
While there were many words repeated during the presentation, the one that stood out most was this one: stability. Stability is an important word to families. As WCPSS opens three schools in the 2017-18 year, and five more during the 2018-19 year, it will appear that there is much instability. The truth is, opening a new school doesn’t happen without issue.
But this is the reality of a growing school system opening multiple schools in consecutive years.