Education

School board member says decisions were 'responsive'

Posted December 2, 2009
Updated December 3, 2009

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— Within hours of being sworn in Tuesday, the newly elected Wake County Board of Education wasted no time making big changes.

It passed eight resolutions, including reviewing the effectiveness of year-round schools and ending a policy called "early-release Wednesdays," in which students are released early once a week so teachers can use the time for planning sessions called “Professional Learning Communities.”

Wake school board chairman Ron Margiotta School board chair: Watch what we do next

"I think every one of us supports the process of PLTs," board member John Tedesco said Wednesday. "We just didn't support implementation in the middle of the afternoon scheduling."

Some teachers say collaboration time should be built into the normal working schedule. They have six months to show it helps student achievement and prove that to the new board.

"It's a little disheartening to see that in one fell swoop, all of that time, that investment of time, soul searching wiped away with a single 5-4 vote," said Alan Trogdon, a teacher at Cary High School.

"We need to find out where they're coming from and also establish where we're coming from, so that maybe we can find some commonality," he continued. "But right now, I don't think we have it."

School board member Keith Sutton said newly elected members should take time to become familiar with the district before making changes. He, for one, is in favor of the year-round school calendar.

"Year-round schools make a more efficient use of our facilities,” he explained.

Sutton also said he knows that his views, such as with the district’s busing for diversity policies, are now the minority. Nevertheless, he said he plans to work with new members.

"We won't always agree on everything and we all won't get what we always might want," he said.

The new board also voted to stop spending money on the Forest Ridge High School site, which has drawn negative attention for over-runs in the construction budget.

Tedesco said the issues should not have been a surprise to anyone.

"In every campaign for six months, we talked about being responsive to parents, responsive to citizens in a different way," said Tedesco and the three other newly elected members, who along with school board Chairman Ron Margiotta, make up the majority.

Caroll Middle School teacher Paulette Jones Leaven calls the decision to end teacher collaboration and planning times on Wednesdays as "rash."

"I think it was and looks to be a morale buster in the time at which academic demands are so great," Leaven said.

But Tedesco said he and the other new members had their own experts analyzing data for months, so they could make the decisions as quickly as they did.

He said that's what voters want them to do.

"(We) Basically campaigned as a block team that you're going to get a chance to elect a team that going to be able to make these changes in a way never saw before," he said.

They're making good on that promise.

Kevin Hill, the former school board chairman, said the board was not given the opportunity to make informed, data-driven decisions and that Tuesday's resolutions "spoke poorly of the board."

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  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Dec 3, 2009

    "So, we're all for supporting Teachers and Students, UNLESS it interferes with parents' schedules. It may have been legal for the newly elected to meet before they were sworn in, but was it ethical? Shouldn't these ideas have been discussed ONLY in open meetings, instead of in secret meetings, where an agenda was formed? It will be interesting to see how well these people go over. We've had enough of this kind of shady politics in NC. Were teachers poled?"

    Thank you for describing how the failed previous school board did things.

    The current school board promised to end Wacky Wednesday during the election as soon as they were elected. They were just carrying out a campaign promise.

    The taxpayers elect the school board to carry out their wishes. Not the wishes of the teachers.

  • superman Dec 3, 2009

    Yep and I also say the moon is made of good old american swiss cheese. But what you say and what you did -- dont make it true!

  • butterpie Dec 3, 2009

    So, we're all for supporting Teachers and Students, UNLESS it interferes with parents' schedules. It may have been legal for the newly elected to meet before they were sworn in, but was it ethical? Shouldn't these ideas have been discussed ONLY in open meetings, instead of in secret meetings, where an agenda was formed? It will be interesting to see how well these people go over. We've had enough of this kind of shady politics in NC. Were teachers poled?

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Dec 3, 2009

    Wacky Wednesday also caused Raleigh and other governments to spend money they didn't have to change the school zone signs.

    I think the former school board members should have to pay for the change to school zone signs reflect Wacky Wednesday and to undo it next year out of their personal funds.

    The Wacky Wednesday sign change is a joke. If you try to read the signs it's like an eye test at 35 to 45 mph. I know several people who've had speeding in school zone tickets overturned by judges because you can't read the signs while driving 35 mph to 45 mph. So effectively thanks to the failed previous school board, there is no school zone speed limit when school starts and ends.

  • time4real Dec 3, 2009

    "I don't like year round schools either"

    when you get the survey, make sure to mark it that way!

  • Da Toy Maker Dec 3, 2009

    OK. I'll shut up now.

    Wish everyone a Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!!!!!!!!!

  • Chuck U Farley Dec 3, 2009

    When the guys at work first told me about early release Wednesday (and super-early release Wednesday), I thought they were making it up. It's the stupidest idea I have ever heard. I don't like year round schools either.

    On the other hand, I am a product of the magnet school system and it made a huge difference in my life. I understand parents not wanting their kids to be forced into bussing, but let those who do it voluntarily continue to do so. If magnet schools cease to exist, I will be sending my kids to private school.

  • Da Toy Maker Dec 3, 2009

    I guess we are already paying higher tax for school in Wake County than other counties in NC. Is it this one of the reason why Wake County's students perform better than most other counties in NC?

    I kind of remember a law suit quite a few years back filed by and won by rural school districts about unequal education in NC. I believe Judge ruled in favor of the plaintiff that has a huge effect on how the school system funding is distributed now before that law suit.

    How does Charlotte-Mecklenburg County school system avoid getting suit but Wayne County school doesn't. It is just too much to deal with.

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Dec 3, 2009

    "Also, money saved on bussing will do nothing for the county's coffers. It is mostly state funds that can be only used for that purpose."

    Then in that case, let the state get the money back and reduce state taxes.

  • Da Toy Maker Dec 3, 2009

    Need some info here:

    Charlotte-Mecklenburg County, Durham County, and Orange County all have neighborhood schools, right? How do the students there perform compare to Wake County? It is probably better to compare Wake to Charlotte-Mecklenburg for similar size.

    For those really want to see strict neighborhood school, you could check out New Jersey's school system. Over in NJ, each township has its own school tax rate. You will really see the difference between the Have's & the Have not's. It is also reflected on the house market. A similar size house two adjacent towns could see 100% price difference. What do you think if you have to $20k a year on your house (2800 sq ft with 2 car garage)for school tax?

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