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Wake could put enrollment caps on 24 schools in 2021. See who’s on the list.

T. Keung Hui
·2 min read

Two-dozen Wake County schools could be put under enrollment limits that keep newly arriving families from attending them.

Wake County school administrators recommended Tuesday putting enrollment caps on 24 crowded schools for the 2021-22 school year. Most of the schools on the list are elementary schools that school officials say will be hard pressed to take any more students due to tightening state rules on K-3 class size limits.

The school board could approve the limits on March 16. If adopted, the caps would go into effect immediately.

Enrollment caps are a way for the school system to try to shift the burden of dealing with overcrowded families onto newcomers instead of reassigning existing students out of schools. When a capped school reaches an enrollment limit, families who weren’t living in the attendance area by a certain date are bused to a more distant school that has space.

But capping comes with a cost for both the district and students. Wake will need an additional nine buses to transport students who’d have longer bus rides going to the more distant capped school. This year, 914 students are capped out of their closest school.

“Capping is not very efficient for this Borad of Education,” said school board member Roxie Cash.

Administrators want to continue caps at 17 elementary schools; Abbotts Creek, Alston Ridge, Beaverdam, Cedar Fork, Combs, Highcroft, Holly Grove, Hortons Creek, Lead Mine, Mills Park, Oakview, Olive Chapel, Rogers Lane, Scotts Ridge, Sycamore Creek, Weatherstone and White Oak.

Administrators also want to continue the caps at Mills Park Middle School and Heritage and Panther Creek high schools.

Administrators want to place new caps at Northwoods and Zebulon elementary schools, Apex Friendship Middle School and Apex Friendship High School.

State class size limits

Wake has to deal with how the average K-3 class size in North Carolina will drop from 18 students this school year to 16 students in first grade and 17 students in second and third grades. It will remain 18 students in kindergarten.

Republican state lawmakers say the smaller K-3 class sizes will help improve academic performance. But school districts complain that it will be difficult finding the teachers and the classroom space to meet the smaller class sizes.

The caps come even though Wake shrank in size this year for the first time in nearly 40 years. But school planners expect enrollment will go back up this fall when families who stayed away due to coronavirus concerns return.

While the district’s overall enrollment didn’t go up this year, some parts of the county are still seeing growth.

If caps aren’t used, administrators say alternatives could include converting schools to a multi-track year-round calendar and/or reassigning students to other schools.