Local/State

Audit shows problems at eastern Wake County schools

Friday, August 23, 2013

Talk to residents in eastern Wake County, and they'll tell you there has long been a perception that the Wake County school district has left them in the dust, and now a new report may validate some of those beliefs.

The audit commissioned by the Wake County Public School System was performed by Curriculum Management Systems, Inc. It looked at Knightdale High School, East Wake Middle School, Hodge Road Elementary School, and Knightdale Elementary.

The report says East Wake Middle School had the worst conditions, including a food shortage in the cafeteria, a busing issue that causes some students to be late almost on a daily basis, and poor building conditions.

"That just is something that shouldn't be happening anywhere - much less in a place like Wake County," said Knightdale Mayor Russell Killen.

The audit of the four Wake County Schools found other troubling issues, ranging from inexperienced teachers and high turnover, inconsistencies in student discipline, problems in implementing a new curriculum, and a lack of rigorous, challenging learning activities.

Knightdale's mayor isn't surprised.

"This is an area that they, in the past, have been able to get by without addressing these issues, but if it was in North Raleigh, or Cary, then this just wouldn't be allowed to happen," said Mayor Killen.

Wake County Schools commissioned the curriculum audit last October. A common theme finds hard-working teachers and principals, but they don't have the resources to do their job effectively.

District leaders said they were troubled by the report's description of East Wake Middle, with busing problems getting some children to school late every day.

"Those definitely were alarming -- the transportation issues, which I do know staff has worked very hard in the last year to improve," said school board member Christine Kushner.

Kushner chairs the student achievement committee. She admitted it is difficult to keep good teachers at low-income schools.

"We're finding teacher turnover in Wake County is about 10 percent at the elementary level, about 12 percent at the middle and high school level," said Kushner. "While that's lower than the state average, it's something we have to look at."

With only 50 percent of Knightdale students going to Knightdale schools, Killen says the report validates concerns residents have had for years.

"This wasn't created overnight and we just can't let it go on any longer," said Killen.

Kushner says passing the school bond in October would be a start to fixing the structural issues, particularly at East Wake Middle School.

As far as the instructional problems, staff is now using the report to come up with solutions to present to the student achievement committee as soon as next month.

» See the full audit here. «

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wake county schools, local/state, heather waliga
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