The most common questions I get when helping people find a new home are about schools. Schools in the Triangle are a bit different than other places. We have a lot of options. Parents can choose the neighborhood school, a public magnet school, a public charter school or tuition funded private schools. Home schools are also popular in North Carolina, even outpacing private school growth. In order to choose the best school, it helps to understand the difference between the different options available.
A Charter School is paid for through public funding but operationally speaking behaves more like a private school. That doesn’t mean that they don’t have oversight from the Department of Public Education, it just means that their organizational structure is a little different.
Charter schools can be founded by parents in the community who see a need for a particular educational model, such as a Montessori Charter like Sterling Montessori in Morrisville. Or a charter can be founded by a for-profit corporation such as Cardinal Charter Academy in Cary.
What you need to know about charter schools:
Unlike a Charter School, A Magnet school is a traditional public school that follows the state mandated Common Core Curriculum. The mission of North Carolina Charter Schools is to reduce concentrations of poverty, create more diverse environments and increase academic success in schools with lower socioeconomic status. In order to accomplish that mission, in addition to the state curriculum, Magnet schools have a particular focus or learning style. For example, Kingswood Elementary is a Montessori Magnet. Combs Elementary (voted #1 Magnet School in America) is a Leadership school modeled on Steven Covey’s Seven Habits. Jeffreys Grove Elementary offers language immersion. And Enloe High is a GIfted and Talented/International Baccalaureate School. You can find a complete list of Wake County Magnet Schools here.
What you Need to Know About Magnet Schools
Most people who refer to traditional schools, mean the neighborhood public school that their home is zoned to. Since magnet schools are traditional public schools with a magnet designation, your neighborhood school might be a magnet school. Charter schools are never zoned to neighborhoods, though. All students in charter schools must apply to get in, even if they live next door. No matter which school you choose, the quality of the school is more dependent upon the leadership and their ability to hire and retain quality teachers than it is to any one model. Once you understand the differences in the school models, I always recommend the best way to choose is to visit the school, talk to the principal and teachers, observe students in their natural environment and read online reviews at places like Great Schools.
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You will be zoned to one particular school and it will likely be near where you live. However, due to the tremendous growth in the Triangle over the last 10-15 years, schools in the most popular districts frequently have enrollment caps. That means that even if you move into a particular district, you may be assigned to an overflow school. Here is a list of capped schools for the upcoming school year.
School capping can be a frustrating problem for new families moving into the area. Moving is a stressful time and throwing in that level of uncertainty with something as important as your child’s education can be scary. However, there is often an inordinate amount of weight given to getting into the “best” schools. As a mother of four children, I have had students in different Wake County Schools from Elementary to High School. I can definitely attest that the most popular school districts are not popular because they are better than the other schools. There are great schools throughout the Town of Cary. I wouldn’t be disappointed to be zoned to any school in Cary!
|Abbots Creek||Combs||Conn||Fox Road||Hodge Road||Lacy||Mills Park||Pleasant Union||Stough||Wakelon||Willow Springs|
|Alston Ridge||Cedar Fork||Creech Road||Fuller||Holly Grove||Lake Myra||Morrisville||Powell||Swift Creek||Walnut Creek||Yates Mill|
|Apex||Carpenter||Davis Drive||Fuquay-Varina||Holly Ridge Road||Laurel Park||North Ridge||Rand Road||Sycamore Creek||Washington||York|
|Bailywick Road||Baucom||Dillard||Green||Holly Springs||Lead Mine||Northwoods||Reedy Creek||Timber Drive||Weatherstone||Zebulon|
|Ballentine||Beaverdam||Douglas||Green Hope||Hunter||Leesville||Oak Grove||River Bend||Turner Creek||Wendell|
|Banks||Brassfield||Durant||Harris Creek||Jeffreys Grove||Lincoln Heights||Oakview||Rolesville||Underwood||West Lake|
|Barwell||Brentwood||East Garner||Herbert Akins||Jones Dairy||Lockhart||Olds||Root||Vance||White Oak|
|Briarcliff||Carver||Farmington Woods||Heritage||Joyner||Lynn Road||Olive Chapel||Salem||Vandora Springs||Wilburn Oak|
|Brier Creek||Cary||Forest Pines||Highcroft||Kingswood||Middle Creek||Penny Road||Sanford Creek||Wake Forest||Wildwood Forest|
|Apex||East Wake||North Garner|
|Daniels||Holly Ridge||Wake Forest|
|Davis Drive||Leesville Road||Wakefield|
|Durant Road||Lufkin Road||West Cary|
|East Cary||Martin||West Lake|
|East Garner||Mills Park||West Millbrook|
|East Millbrook||Moore Square||Zebulon|
Ellen is the founder of Harmony Realty, a socially conscious realty company. Ellen believes in empowering her clients through education and open communication. Ellen is a number-cruncher at heart and takes great pleasure in following and analyzing the trends of the housing industry. She loves communicating the big picture to her clients and helping them to understand how the market affects their sale or purchase. Her honest and down-to-earth approach allows her clients to make informed and intelligent decisions to get the most out of their offers and negotiations.