After parents voice concerns, Highcroft Drive Elementary in Cary won’t be an overflow school

snagem@newsobserver.comMarch 5, 2014 

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ROBERT WILLETT — rwillett@newsobserver.com Buy Photo

  • Capped schools

    The Wake County school board approved enrollment caps at the following schools:

    Elementary schools: Alston Ridge, Brooks, Cedar Forks, Combs, Forest Pines, Green, Hodge Road, Holly Grove, Holly Ridge, Holly Springs, Hunter, Jones Dairy, Lacy, Leesville Road, Mills Park, North Ridge and Walnut Creek

    Middle schools: Mills Park

    High schools: Apex, Holly Springs

— After hearing concerns about overcrowding from parents in western Cary, the Wake County school board decided that Highcroft Drive Elementary School won’t serve as an overflow school for Mills Park Elementary.

But some parents say more needs to be done for Highcroft. Specifically, they want school leaders to rethink a plan that calls for putting six more mobile classrooms on campus.

“We’re still staying vigilant,” said Amy Hugo, whose son is a third-grader at Highcroft. “We know we’re not done. We have to keep the message going.”

Hugo and some other Highcroft parents and students attended the school board meeting on Tuesday with signs urging members to change a plan that would have pushed more students to the already-crowded school.

The school board approved enrollment caps at 20 schools for the 2014-15 school year on Tuesday.

Under the caps, if any of those crowded schools hits an enrollment figure specific to each campus, the system will turn away students who later move into the attendance area. Students will be given up to two “overflow” schools to choose from for this fall.

The policy exempts families who already live in the school zone but don’t yet have children attending the school.

In Cary and Morrisville, Cedar Fork and Mills Park elementary schools will continue their existing enrollment caps. Alston Ridge Elementary and Mills Park Middle in Cary are now capped, and Apex and Holly Springs high schools will continue their caps.

Parents said Highcroft shouldn’t be an overflow school because it already has more than 940 students and is at nearly 115 percent of its capacity, the highest percentage of any elementary school in western Cary.

The school won’t have to accept new students who can’t attend Mills Park Elementary. But now some parents say the school board and the town of Cary need to consider possible solutions to improve safety and traffic flow at Highcroft.

The school currently has nine temporary classrooms and is in the process of getting six more, according to school officials. That’s the most temporary classrooms of any elementary school in western Cary.

More than 460 people have signed an online petition urging the school board to not designate Highcroft as an overflow school and to not add more mobile classrooms.

The school is in the Highcroft neighborhood off of Green Hope School Road, and traffic often backs up in the mornings and afternoons, Hugo said.

She said she also worries about safety. If the school has to be locked down, she said, some students would be stuck in mobile units.

“I’m scared to death that my child is going to be in a trailer for a lockdown,” Hugo said. “It is not safe. Safety should never be compromised.

While the mobile units give extra space for classrooms, all students must use the media center and cafeteria in the main building. Hugo said her son eats lunch at 10:30 a.m.

“Just because you can fit more students in the modulars, what about the cafeteria?” she asked.

Hundreds of new homes are slated to be built in the neighborhood in the coming years, which means more students will attended western Cary schools.

Kerri Eklund, who has two children attending Highcroft, said she wants the school board to consider “spot nodes” for those new communities. Under that system, she said, new students would attend less-crowded schools.

“It’s a good way to effectively use facilities that have space, because Highcroft doesn’t have any space,” Eklund said.

Staff writer T. Keung Hui contributed to this report.

Nagem: 919-460-2605; Twitter: @BySarahNagem

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