School leaders address audit issues

mhankerson@newsobserver.comOctober 1, 2013 

— It’s been about a month since Wake County school board members saw the results of an independent audit of Knightdale schools commissioned last year. School leaders are now starting to react to those findings.

The audit found problems with teacher retention, consistent disciplinary action and resources. The report said East Wake Middle School often ran out of food in the middle of the day.

And although activists voiced concern when the findings were initially released, Wake County hasn’t implemented any policies this year to try to alleviate the problems the audit found.

Instead, administrators who work more directly with Knightdale and eastern Wake County have stepped in.

Administrators plan to tackle the problems in a big way, said Ed McFarland, area superintendent for the eastern part of the county.

“There are two approaches: what we can do systematically and what we can do at each specific school,” he said.

McFarland, who has been in his post for about a month, hopes to start working groups that include school board members, administrators from eastern Wake schools and community members. McFarland said he doesn’t want to drag the process out and hopes to begin these working groups in early October.

According to District 1 school board member Tom Benton, who represents Knightdale schools, administrators are already looking to fill the open committee positions to start working.

“We have begun looking at the types of people that need to be on there – local businessmen, people from larger companies and then the civic leaders,” Benton said.

Benton said it’s key to try to decide what needs to be done so local school leaders can be prepared to ask for budget changes, if necessary.

The audit, completed by Iowa-based Curriculum Management Systems, reported problems with teacher training and resources throughout schools in Knightdale.

Food shortages fixed

At East Wake Middle, the audit reported the school was consistently running out of food.

McFarland said that problem has already been solved. At the time the audit was completed, East Wake Middle’s cafeteria manager position wasn’t permanently filled. The position has since been filled and McFarland said he hasn’t heard of any more problems with East Wake Middle’s food supply.

In addition to the working groups, McFarland said paying attention to individual schools’ curriculum plan might alleviate some of the issues Knightdale schools face.

Benton said addressing individual schools’ problems is the first step, but now may also be a good time to address larger issues in Knigthdale schools.

“A trend seemed to have started four or five years ago … of parents of high-achieving students choosing to opt out of Knightdale’s schools for magnet schools in Raleigh,” he said.

“We’ve got to take a hard look, not school-by-school, but systemwide.”

Benton said the working groups are a good chance to find out whether parents and students want Knightdale to offer its own magnet schools, but the county may also have to help the schools obtain the appropriate resources to keep the schools functioning at a high level.

Benton said the county’s resources are currently divided up equally, but not neccesarily equitably.

What’s equal?

Each school receives the same amount of money per student, but according to Benton, the larger school system is not considering the needs of individual schools when it creates budgets.

Benton said a weighted formula that accounts for needs of different kinds of students would work better for schools like those in Knightdale.

Knightdale often trails other schools in terms of proficiency (the number of students performing at or above grade level), but tends to do well in growth (the number of students who have improved, measured by tests given at the end of each grade), Benton said.

The audit evaluated Hodge Road and Knightdale elementary schools, East Wake Middle School and Knightdale High School.

Hankerson: 919-829-4826; Twitter: @easternwakenews

Eastern Wake News is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service