Wake County, NC – Thoughts for January 2019 from Bill Fletcher, Member of the Wake County Board of Education.
You Voted YES to pay LESS!
That is the choice voters made by passing the Wake School Bond issue. Voters authorized the use of General Obligation bonds for school construction which is the most cost-effective way to borrow money for construction. Voter approval will save all Wake taxpayers significant interest on capital debt.
Public Confirms Board Direction
Wake voters showed their support for the general direction your school board is going by re-electing seven sitting members and filling one vacant seat with a music educator. Thank you! We are committed to Vision 2020 and the undergirding principles and concepts.
As Superintendent Cathy Moore emphasizes in every meeting with staff or community, “every student…each day!” When we all focus on the academic, social and emotional needs of every student each day, we will continue to see gaps close and aggregate performance increase.
Board Seats Chris Heagarty to Serve in District 7
In a unanimous vote the Board appointed Mr. Heagarty to the open seat in District 7. He is the father of two Wake students, executive director of a local non-profit, former NC legislator and is committed to assuring all children access to challenging curriculum and nurturing environments. Welcome aboard Chris.
Where are all the children?
For several planning cycles the Board has observed a declining birth rate in Wake County. While the County continues to grow by 60+ people a day, the County is also getting older. 65+ used to be the oldest demo grouping. 85+ is now a legitimate demo category.
Demographers are seeing fewer children per household and households are aging. Just what will this mean for our community? The Board will examine the issue.
Gaps in School Maintenance
Issues such as leaking roofs, sewer lines backing up, and sporadic operation of HVAC equipment continue to plague our system. Why? Some point to a backlog of maintenance requests. Others see a list of unfilled positions for HVAC technicians, electricians, plumbers and other trades.
Why you ask? Maintenance and Operations (M&O) is funded 100% by local tax money. Responding to the dramatic reduction in state funding in 2008, Wake chose to allocate significant local funding to maintain the instructional staff in the classroom.
While the district has added 5 million square feet in the last decade, the maintenance staff has a dozen fewer employees.
School Assignments for 2018-19 Finalized!
Growth, over-enrolled schools and capped schools in specific parts of the County created significant challenges for 2019-20 enrollment plan. Add in family requests for calendar alignment between elementary and middle schools, road construction, rapid residential development, expanding greenway systems, and choices were difficult.
What is clear is that many families prize their current school and want to maintain the status quo. Communication that acknowledges all of these different desires is essential and, most agree, should be improved in future plans.
Big Rocks for Investigation in 2019
- Sustainability – Create a definition and scope for Wake County schools
- Urban footprint schools – study urban school design in other metro areas and develop a plan for Wake
- Develop a plan to include teacher housing options on/in/above future public schools
Factoid #45: Class size mandate will require more schools
Wake has an uphill challenge to fully implement the state-mandated class size reduction in grades K-3. More than 400 additional classrooms will be needed to fully implement the @17 students/class. It will take years.
Parent chats (except on holidays)
1st Thursday – 1 PM
Cary Chamber, 315 N Academy St., Cary
3rd Monday – 11 AM
Caribou Coffee shop, 109 SW Maynard Rd., Cary
Bill Fletcher school info: BFletcher@wcpss.net || Voice Mail: 919-694-8843 || Mobile: 919-880-5301
Story by Bill Fletcher, Member Wake County Board of Education. Photos by John Picken.