Navigating Wake County Public Schools Part 1: The Basics

It’s no secret that Wake County has great public schools, and they play a major factor in many family’s decision to move to the area! But unfortunately due to high population growth, choosing a place to live based on the school you’d like your child to attend isn’t a simple process.

How do I find my WCPSS school?

If you’re considering purchasing or renting a specific home, you can look up current school options by visiting the WCPSS Address Lookup page.

If you have a specific school in mind and would like to focus your home search around that school, you can visit the same page, and select the map you’d like to see from the top toolbar. But, unfortunately friends, it probably isn’t that simple.

Just because you move within a school district doesn’t mean you child will attend that school. And just because your child attends a school this year does not guarantee they will be able to attend the same school next year.

Your school may be capped, or it’s zone may change from year to year to accommodate growth in the area.

What’s the deal with capped schools?

If a school is capped, it may not be accepting new students even if you purchase or rent a home within the school’s zone. Then again, just because a school is capped doesn’t mean that your child(ren) can’t attend. The school may still have a few seats open within certain grade levels.

The only certain way to know current availability for sure is to call and ask the school data manager. Keep in mind that he or she can really only guarantee current information and not future availablity.

Base Schools VS Application Schools

A base school is the school your child will automatically be assigned to unless it is capped at their grade level.

Application schools are alternative free public school options that you may apply to attend. I don’t recommend moving to an area solely to attend an application school as there’s no guarantee your child will be accepted into that school. There are several reasons why a family may want to consider an applying to these schools.

Traditional schools run on a common late August to mid June schedule with a long summer vacation and a standard Thanksgiving break, winter break, spring break, and major holidays off. If your base school is a year-round school and that isn’t your family’s preference, you may consider applying for your traditional school option. Check out the traditional school schedule by scrolling down to the “Traditional Calendar” heading on the WCPSS School Calendars page.

Year-round schools, as the name implies, are run all year. Students are placed on one of four “tracks” (schedules) and attend school in a ‘nine weeks on, three weeks off’ general routine. Year-round schools are only available at the elementary and middle school levels. If your base school is traditional and you’d like to try the year round schedule, consider applying to your year-round application school option. Check out the year round school tracks by scrolling down to the “Year Round Calendar” heading on the WCPSS School Calendars page.

Magnet schools are schools that offer an programs in addition to the standard curriculum. Wake County magnet school themes include gifted and talented programs, multicultural/bilingual studies, leadership, technology, engineering, the arts. To learn more visit the WCPSS Magnet Schools page.

Is your head spinning yet?

I know, it’s a lot to digest. But there’s good reason why thousands of families choose to send their children to Wake County Public Schools.

Want to hear more about calendar options? Click here.