Holly Springs schools could face enrollment caps

snagem@newsobserver.comFebruary 13, 2014 

Students at Holly Grove Elementary School in Holly Springs load onto buses after school on Monday.

PAUL A. SPECHT — aspecht@newobserver.com

  • Proposed capped-enrollment schools

    Nine of the 20 schools that could face enrollment limits in the fall are in western Wake County:

    Apex: Apex High

    Cary: Alston Ridge Elementary; Mills Park Elementary; Mills Park Middle

    Holly Springs: Holly Grove Elementary; Holly Ridge Elementary; Holly Springs Elementary; Holly Springs High

    Morrisville: Cedar Fork Elementary

— All three of the town’s elementary schools could face capped enrollments in the fall, prompting concerns that families might choose not to move to Holly Springs.

Holly Grove Elementary School already has a capped enrollment, which means families that move nearby are assigned to other schools. Under a proposal the Wake County school board is expected to vote on Tuesday, the town’s other elementary schools, Holly Ridge and Holly Springs, would also assign new students elsewhere.

A total of 20 schools throughout the county are recommended for enrollment limits this fall.

In Cary and Morrisville, Cedar Fork and Mills Park elementary schools could continue limiting enrollment. The same goes for Apex and Holly Springs high schools. Alston Ridge Elementary and Mills Park Middle in Cary could face new limits.

If the caps are approved, families who don’t already live in the attendance area could be assigned to other schools.

The capped elementary schools in Holly Springs could assign new students to schools in Fuquay-Varina – Herbert Akins and Lincoln Heights.

Some people who are looking for a new home might choose not to live in a town where their children can’t attend the school in the attendance area, said Steve Gillooly, owner of Gillooly & Associates Realty in Cary.

Gillooly said he is developing 153 homes on Ralph Stephens Road and the N.C. 55 bypass in Holly Springs.

“I’m sure some would choose to go to Apex,” Gillooly said. “That would be a concern for the buyers, definitely.”

But Holly Springs Mayor Dick Sears said he isn’t hitting the panic button just yet.

The proposed enrollment limits simply show that the town needs more schools, he said. With the completion of N.C. 540 through Holly Springs, more development is likely on the way.

Wake County uses enrollment limits to ease crowding at schools.

“We’re going to need another high school in the near future, too,” Sears said.

There are no plans in the works yet to build another high school in town, said Joe Desormeaux, assistant superintendent for facilities for Wake schools.

But the school system plans to open a new elementary school in Holly Springs in 2016, he said. A potential site is on a Wake County landfill.

“We’re still looking at different options,” Desormeaux said.

Kathy Pierce, a builder representative for the Sunset Oaks neighborhood of Holly Springs, said students in that area attend Middle Creek schools and wouldn’t be affected by the enrollment limits.

“I’ve always told people, ‘You can’t buy a house based on school assignments, because you never know what Wake County is going to do,’ ” Pierce said.

For now, Sears said he wasn’t worried that families will skip Holly Springs when they look for a place to buy a home.

“I don’t see it as a negative,” he said. “I see it as a positive to build on.”

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

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