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Old 01-12-2009, 04:03 PM
 
Location: Middle Creek Township
2,034 posts, read 2,868,455 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jandaod View Post
We have friends who are moving to Wake County instead. Specifically for better schools. Should we be looking there instead?

Western Wake County will provide much more opportunity for better schools. That doesn't mean there are not good schools in Durham, but a much higher percentage of Western Wake County schools are good vs not good.. The Chapel Hill schools are also very good.

Last edited by Charlton Dude; 01-12-2009 at 04:13 PM..
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Old 01-12-2009, 04:11 PM
 
Location: Middle Creek Township
2,034 posts, read 2,868,455 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jandaod View Post
And lastly, we heard that the Hillside school has problems, but is a proud historically black school. Is the main problem the low "scores" or are there truly systemic problems like violence and drugs? Would a white kid be welcome? How successful is the IB program, and what proportion of the school is enrolled in it?

Hillside has been a poor performer for years and has had issues with gangs. The school was close to being shut down for poor performance.

News 14 | 24 Hour Local News | TOP STORIES | Families react to low-performing schools decision

Hillside High School (Durham, North Carolina) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"Because of five consecutive years of composite testing scores of below 55%, Judge Howard Manning has threatened to close the school"
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Old 01-12-2009, 05:26 PM
 
3,155 posts, read 7,058,943 times
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OP, please note the date of this article was from August 06, almost 2.5 years ago. From my experience a school can change radically over night (either way... good to poor or poor to good).

Last year Hillside had at least one student who recieved a full ride to Harvard. Calvitts has the most direct, recent experience w/ Hillside than any of us on this board. I would definately dm her.

When we decided to move back to NC, we ruled out Chapel Hill b/c we wanted to be closer to the "center" geographically in the Triangle and both hubby and I could not see ourselves living in a college town of only 50K.

We considered Wake Co for a long time. But hubby did not like the sprawl feeling of North Raleigh (sorry his words, not mine). And I REALLY was worried about the redistricting thing. I don't have an issue w/ sending my children to schools with students from a lower economic status but I did not want my children to have to switch schools every few years. Please note, I am NOT saying this is the case w/ all students in Wake Co. But I had just come off a 2 year battle with our school district in Portland over funding and school closures and I was burnt out and needed some stabilty for my children.

Durham seemed like a natural fit. We wanted to expose our children to more diversity (racial and socio-economic) and folks in Durham seem to be pretty politically involved and value volunteerism and community activism. So again it was a good fit for our family.

We in part picked where we live based on the location of some old friends. We were moving 3,000 miles and thought it would be nice to have friends near by. Which has been great. In retrospect there are other areas of Durham that I think would have been a better fit for us as a family. We looked only at homes associated w/ Creekside, Hope Valley, & Forest View. I really wish we had considered areas around EK Powell, Club Blvd, Hillandale, Easley, possibly Watts (I say possibly only because Montessori isn't the best fit for my kids. But public school Montessori is Montessori light). Now that Spring Valley is open (brand spanking new as of January 5th) I would consider that too.

These are all elementary schools. The scores at some of these schools are not all that stellar. BUT if you step into these school, email the PTAs, you will see vibrant schools where children of all levels and abilities are challenged and grow.

OH, another reason we did not pick Wake Co was in middle school students have to go to a magnet to get foreign language. Not everyone gets into magnets. I really wanted them to have the availability of foreign language in middle school. My kids will get that here in Durham.

One other thing to consider is Durham has many Charter Schools. I've heard good things about Voyager Academy and Kestrel Heights. Charter Schools are tuition free.... any resident of NC can apply.

Durham and Durham Public Schools are worth the look and the time. Also keep in mind that Durham gets lots of teachers from UNC-Ch. Chapel Hill has one of the best teacher ed programs in the country and many say it's the best in the state. We have been VERY pleased with the teachers our children have had.

BTW, my kids are at Creekside. The school is over capacity, but it's AMAZING how well they are handling that number of kids. Great things are happening at that school.
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Old 01-12-2009, 10:12 PM
 
Location: Former Michigander living in Durham, NC (SW Durham)
675 posts, read 1,590,466 times
Reputation: 499
Quote:
Originally Posted by PDXmom View Post
OP, please note the date of this article was from August 06, almost 2.5 years ago. From my experience a school can change radically over night (either way... good to poor or poor to good).

Last year Hillside had at least one student who recieved a full ride to Harvard. Calvitts has the most direct, recent experience w/ Hillside than any of us on this board. I would definately dm her.

When we decided to move back to NC, we ruled out Chapel Hill b/c we wanted to be closer to the "center" geographically in the Triangle and both hubby and I could not see ourselves living in a college town of only 50K.

We considered Wake Co for a long time. But hubby did not like the sprawl feeling of North Raleigh (sorry his words, not mine). And I REALLY was worried about the redistricting thing. I don't have an issue w/ sending my children to schools with students from a lower economic status but I did not want my children to have to switch schools every few years. Please note, I am NOT saying this is the case w/ all students in Wake Co. But I had just come off a 2 year battle with our school district in Portland over funding and school closures and I was burnt out and needed some stabilty for my children.

Durham seemed like a natural fit. We wanted to expose our children to more diversity (racial and socio-economic) and folks in Durham seem to be pretty politically involved and value volunteerism and community activism. So again it was a good fit for our family.

We in part picked where we live based on the location of some old friends. We were moving 3,000 miles and thought it would be nice to have friends near by. Which has been great. In retrospect there are other areas of Durham that I think would have been a better fit for us as a family. We looked only at homes associated w/ Creekside, Hope Valley, & Forest View. I really wish we had considered areas around EK Powell, Club Blvd, Hillandale, Easley, possibly Watts (I say possibly only because Montessori isn't the best fit for my kids. But public school Montessori is Montessori light). Now that Spring Valley is open (brand spanking new as of January 5th) I would consider that too.

These are all elementary schools. The scores at some of these schools are not all that stellar. BUT if you step into these school, email the PTAs, you will see vibrant schools where children of all levels and abilities are challenged and grow.

OH, another reason we did not pick Wake Co was in middle school students have to go to a magnet to get foreign language. Not everyone gets into magnets. I really wanted them to have the availability of foreign language in middle school. My kids will get that here in Durham.

One other thing to consider is Durham has many Charter Schools. I've heard good things about Voyager Academy and Kestrel Heights. Charter Schools are tuition free.... any resident of NC can apply.

Durham and Durham Public Schools are worth the look and the time. Also keep in mind that Durham gets lots of teachers from UNC-Ch. Chapel Hill has one of the best teacher ed programs in the country and many say it's the best in the state. We have been VERY pleased with the teachers our children have had.

BTW, my kids are at Creekside. The school is over capacity, but it's AMAZING how well they are handling that number of kids. Great things are happening at that school.
Great post, PDXMom! I tried to rep you for this, but I have to share a few more points around first.

Thank you for sharing a positive experience and common sense!
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Old 01-13-2009, 07:02 AM
 
5 posts, read 11,594 times
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Thanks so much PDXmom, yes we really like Durham, and we want our next house to be the one that lasts us for 10-20 years if not longer so it's a big decision. Our daughter is 2 so elementary schools are important but we want to be sure that we are looking at the bigger picture. When you don't have a child in school yet you just hear the hype but it is impossible to figure out what is really going on. Honestly I hate the traffic over in Wake County - the neighborhoods seem nice enough though. I think we will give Durham a good lookover. We are in Creekside area right now but in a townhome and need larger. Based on what I am reading on this and other posts I should continue to look in this area but also consider the brogden/riverside area. Charter schools may also be an option. Time for me to start visiting schools over the next 6 months!
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Old 01-13-2009, 08:29 AM
 
3,155 posts, read 7,058,943 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jandaod View Post
Thanks so much PDXmom, yes we really like Durham, and we want our next house to be the one that lasts us for 10-20 years if not longer so it's a big decision. Our daughter is 2 so elementary schools are important but we want to be sure that we are looking at the bigger picture. When you don't have a child in school yet you just hear the hype but it is impossible to figure out what is really going on. Honestly I hate the traffic over in Wake County - the neighborhoods seem nice enough though. I think we will give Durham a good lookover. We are in Creekside area right now but in a townhome and need larger. Based on what I am reading on this and other posts I should continue to look in this area but also consider the brogden/riverside area. Charter schools may also be an option. Time for me to start visiting schools over the next 6 months!
Good luck with your search. In the month of January many DPS schools have Open House Events where you can go see the schools. They all allow ongoing tours as well. I know it's hard to figure out what a 2 year will need when he/she is 6 or 12 or 15. They change so much so quickly! But I really think walking into a school is the best way to get a feel for it.

Let us know if you have any more questions.
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Old 01-13-2009, 08:52 AM
 
Location: Chapel Hill
369 posts, read 549,979 times
Reputation: 266
A few folks recommended SW side of Durham, e.g., Woodcroft area, and while that area is new, it is rapidly becoming overdeveloped and crowded. As the area around Southpoint mall continues to expand this is only going to get worse. So instead I can recommend a couple of other areas in Durham. I would look at the neighborhoods along Pickett Rd. and Raldolph Rd that are in the Forest View Elementary district. Our kids went to FV when we lived in Durham and I can recommend it without reservations. Githens is the middle school for that area and has an iffy reputation but frankly, outside of the Chapel Hill middle schools I have yet to hear much positive things in middle schools in the Triangle. Perhaps sending your kid(s) to Carolina Friends School, Cressett Academy, or Durham Academy-- all three very close by in the area-- during the middle school years is an option? Then they can go to Jordan High, which has a solid reputation.

The other possibility is North/central Durham that are in the Hillandage Elementary/Riverside High district. Both solid schools with above average performance. Wide selection of housing choices.

Good luck.
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Old 01-13-2009, 03:31 PM
 
487 posts, read 852,942 times
Reputation: 498
I have a child who will start Kindergarten in Durham public schools this coming year, and I have been doing lots of talking with folks about elementary schools (in addition to visiting the few we are considering). I agree that you must look beyond test scores. Children are having wonderful experiences in many DPS schools. Those that I have heard very good things about first hand (from friends/colleagues with kids at these schools) include Hillandale, Easley (year round), Mangum, Creekside, Forest View, Watts Montessori (magnet), Pearsontown (year round), Morehead Montessori (magnet), Club Blvd (magnet), & WG Pearson (magnet). This is not meant to be an exclusionary list. This is just a list of schools where I know parents who have kids there and like it, and generally seem to have good reputations. Some also have been pleased with Central Park School, which is a year round charter elementary.

There are many good choices in Durham and I feel fortunate about that. To those who mentioned the liberal transfer policy, please note that the policy became much more restricted several months ago. They previously would allow a transfer to any school if there was space there. This is no longer the case, and one must meet strict criteria in order to be allowed a transfer of that kind. This new policy has not affected the magnet lottery nor the application to attend one's year-round school option.
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Old 01-13-2009, 03:57 PM
 
1,489 posts, read 3,769,347 times
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Be aware that if you are looking at long term options, not to look too far past elementary for your base schools depending on the area. The school system is currently building a new middle school in North Durham, and they are looking for a new site for a High School in between Jordan and Riverside to ease overcrowding there.

They've also talked about new sites for a High School and Middle School in the East with all the new neighborhoods popping up in that area.
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Old 01-13-2009, 06:51 PM
 
Location: North Carolina
752 posts, read 822,825 times
Reputation: 314
Quote:
Originally Posted by PDXmom View Post
OP, please note the date of this article was from August 06, almost 2.5 years ago. From my experience a school can change radically over night (either way... good to poor or poor to good).

Last year Hillside had at least one student who recieved a full ride to Harvard. Calvitts has the most direct, recent experience w/ Hillside than any of us on this board. I would definately dm her.

When we decided to move back to NC, we ruled out Chapel Hill b/c we wanted to be closer to the "center" geographically in the Triangle and both hubby and I could not see ourselves living in a college town of only 50K.

We considered Wake Co for a long time. But hubby did not like the sprawl feeling of North Raleigh (sorry his words, not mine). And I REALLY was worried about the redistricting thing. I don't have an issue w/ sending my children to schools with students from a lower economic status but I did not want my children to have to switch schools every few years. Please note, I am NOT saying this is the case w/ all students in Wake Co. But I had just come off a 2 year battle with our school district in Portland over funding and school closures and I was burnt out and needed some stabilty for my children.

Durham seemed like a natural fit. We wanted to expose our children to more diversity (racial and socio-economic) and folks in Durham seem to be pretty politically involved and value volunteerism and community activism. So again it was a good fit for our family.

We in part picked where we live based on the location of some old friends. We were moving 3,000 miles and thought it would be nice to have friends near by. Which has been great. In retrospect there are other areas of Durham that I think would have been a better fit for us as a family. We looked only at homes associated w/ Creekside, Hope Valley, & Forest View. I really wish we had considered areas around EK Powell, Club Blvd, Hillandale, Easley, possibly Watts (I say possibly only because Montessori isn't the best fit for my kids. But public school Montessori is Montessori light). Now that Spring Valley is open (brand spanking new as of January 5th) I would consider that too.

These are all elementary schools. The scores at some of these schools are not all that stellar. BUT if you step into these school, email the PTAs, you will see vibrant schools where children of all levels and abilities are challenged and grow.

OH, another reason we did not pick Wake Co was in middle school students have to go to a magnet to get foreign language. Not everyone gets into magnets. I really wanted them to have the availability of foreign language in middle school. My kids will get that here in Durham.

One other thing to consider is Durham has many Charter Schools. I've heard good things about Voyager Academy and Kestrel Heights. Charter Schools are tuition free.... any resident of NC can apply.

Durham and Durham Public Schools are worth the look and the time. Also keep in mind that Durham gets lots of teachers from UNC-Ch. Chapel Hill has one of the best teacher ed programs in the country and many say it's the best in the state. We have been VERY pleased with the teachers our children have had.

BTW, my kids are at Creekside. The school is over capacity, but it's AMAZING how well they are handling that number of kids. Great things are happening at that school.
Foreign languages must vary by school, because the public middle schools I am aware of offer foreign languages. Most elementary schools in Wake County start English in Kindergarden.

My aunt's daughter attended Holly Ridge. Here is there website, it at least shows Spanish is offered.

Holly Ridge Middle School | Faculty & Staff

And West Cary shows Spanish
West Cary Middle School Electives

I guess they have changed since I attended middle school, but I took Spanish and French at East Cary. Maybe they had less interest in French.
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