Wake County Schools

Leadership academies get OK; student assignment questions continue

Posted October 16, 2012
Updated October 17, 2012

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— The Wake County Board of Education voted Tuesday on plans that would secure permanent status for the county's two new leadership academies.

The Wake Young Women's and Young Men's Leadership Academies, which opened in July, currently serve sixth-, seventh- and ninth-graders, with a focus on students with no history of college attendance in their families. During the initial sign-up period in the spring, more than 800 students applied for 300 available spots.

The renovation projects are budgeted at more than $8 million.

The Young Men's Leadership Academy, which will move next year to the Thompson Building on Spring Forest Road, needs $3.4 million in renovations, while the Young Women's Leadership Academy, at the Governor Morehead School on Ashe Avenue, needs $4.6 million.

The board reviewed construction plans at its Oct. 2 work session that would allow both projects to be completed by the start of the 2013-14 school year.

Board members were also expected to discuss a proposed career technical high school that would be housed in an old Coca-Cola bottling plant on South Wilmington Street in downtown Raleigh.

County commissioners on Monday approved a deal to lease the 101,000 square-foot facility and to convert it into a school that would open as early as August 2014.

The school board must still approve the deal.

While board members appear to support the school, they did have concerns during their work session Tuesday about whether it would have a high-school curriculum or early-college curriculum. Students would be allowed to earn college credit for Wake Technical Community College, which is partnering with the school system on the venture.

Assignment plan still has sticking points

The board also talked at length about concerns of using old district maps to move forward with a new student assignment plan, saying they are hearing from parents who are confused about what the move will mean for student assignment in the 2013-14 school year.

Board member John Tedesco and other Republican members worry that those maps are based on an old system that led to reassignment and instability in families. They think the board should use maps from this year's assignment plan and make tweaks to them.

"I am a bit confused about what is going on here and how the process is laying out," Tedesco said. "I am having a genuine question about moving forward."

But Democratic board members said this year's "choice plan" dramatically increased busing more than 20 percent and that it is not sustainable.

They reiterated that the intention is not to revert to the old student assignment plan but to borrow the previous maps for 2013-14 while new maps are being created.

“We have to have something for ’13-’14 and this is the path of least resistance for the moment,” said board member Susan Evans.

Board member Jim Martin said the proposal the board is now working on should not be viewed as confusing, because it is based on three principles: stability, an address-based system and an element of choice when there is room.

“It is an imperfect set of maps, we know that," Martin conceded. "But we have got to have something to go forward with because students need assignments to a school.”

"I believe it is clear, simple, sustainable and logical," he said. "Stay where you start. There is an address-based assignment, and where there is capacity, there can be choice."

The board plans to rework student assignment again for 2014-15. 

“We are going from one plan to another plan to another plan,” said board member Chris Malone. "Maybe we are throwing too many things out there for the people to consume.”

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  • westernwake1 Oct 17, 2012

    "You should fight LEADERSHIP Academies....Do NOT be fooled by a name. If it came out of liberal intelligentsia, there's something WRONG with it." - katzpauz

    Actually Leadership Academies did not come out of the "liberal" NAE contingent. In fact most of the Democratic school board members (as was obvious in the meeting) are not really supporters of the Leadership Academy concept which was driven by Tony Tata.

    Leadership Academies are a program that help 'at-risk' children from homes where the parents are not college educated. The academies require school uniforms, a structured learning approach with personal responsibility, small class sizes, volunteering the community, and support from business/military leaders to the schools.

    These are all concepts opposed by the "liberal intelligentsia" who are only focused on diversity and maintaining teaching jobs while keeping the status quo with minimal changes.

  • kimandwill89 Oct 17, 2012

    The only goal of this school board is to add confusion and chaos year after year to the tax paying families of this district. Don't give them an additional dime.

  • katzpauz Oct 17, 2012

    You should fight LEADERSHIP Academies....Do NOT be fooled by a name. If it came out of liberal intelligentsia, there's something WRONG with it.

  • irisbordeaux Oct 17, 2012

    Board member Jim Martin said the proposal the board is now working on should not be viewed as confusing, because it is based on three principles: stability, an address-based system and an element of choice when there is room.

    - That's a little condescending don't you think - we've seen three separate proposals in the last month. And most parents aren't thinking about the "priciples" of our kids' school assignments.

    If they revert to the old maps in the interim, they are still reverting to the original plan that was challenged because it "bussed" students for diversity. You just can't play the "transportation" card here in my opinion...

  • Karmageddon Oct 17, 2012

    My gen·u·ine opinion is that the Board of Supervisors should attend a Leadership Academy since they don't know anything about being leaders.

  • wily2002 Oct 17, 2012

    My kids want that chance but is not qualified. Why public school give certain school more chance than to other? If this program was in Hawii, young Obama could not be qualified.

  • moon-lights Oct 17, 2012

    Why separate boys and girls? I don't think it is a good idea. Especially if they are claiming Leadership. What kind of leaders they are expecting to educate?

  • westernwake1 Oct 17, 2012

    "Thank you Wake School board ,for wasting another 8 million dollars" - blacksuv1962

    An innovative education program with a proven track record and strong community support is not a waste of money.

  • blacksuv1962 Oct 17, 2012

    Thank you Wake School board ,for wasting another 8 million dollars.

  • Honesty first Oct 17, 2012

    Tedesco says he is confused. Is this a surprise. He also said he had a gunine question. Is that new for him for his questions to be guniune?

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