Plan would give Wake parents more choices

Posted December 3, 2009

— The newly elected majority of the Wake County Board of Education wants to redefine the idea of neighborhood schools and bus fewer students.

Reassigning students and busing them away from their neighborhoods to achieve economic diversity in the school system has been a controversial issue for years. It was a key point in this year's election in which voters elected four candidates who said they supported changing the policy in favor of neighborhood schools.

Plan would give Wake parents more choices Plan would give Wake parents more choices

Board member John Tedesco says the majority's vision for a new model of neighborhood schools would give parents choices while keeping their children close to home.

As it is now, each residence in Wake County is assigned to a specific school.

What's being considered by some board members is a plan calling for "community assignment areas," meaning each home would be given a number of education options. Ideally, Tedesco says, that would include a mixture of magnet schools, as well as those on year-round and traditional calendars.

The idea is only being discussed, and it could be at least two years before a transition plan could be in place, he said.

"Not all of them are going to work out with capacity or utilization, and that's what we have to balance out with growth and demand," Tedesco said.

Bill Fletcher, who served on the Wake school board from 1995 to 2005, says the challenge is always demand versus capacity.

"When we opened Davis Drive Elementary School, there were 2,000 children who thought that should be their school," he said. "The school can hold 700. The other 1,300 had to go somewhere else."

Fletcher also worries about doing away with the board's long-standing goal of socioeconomic diversity.

"Folks who gravitate to the closest school are going to wind up creating schools of affluent suburban and less-than-median income," he said.

The school system's policy is to have no more than 40 percent of students receiving free or reduced-price lunches at any school. Neighborhood schools, he says, could lead to schools with 80 or 90 percent low-income students.

That could create other problems, Fletcher says.

"If we're not careful, we will see our teacher turnover rate go up, costing the district at least $15,000 for every position vacated," he said. "We'll see academic achievement suffer. We'll see teacher attraction suffer."

Tesdeco says that is unlikely.

"Wake County is one of the most diverse counties in all of the state of North Carolina," he said. "So to that regard, we think most of those community assignment areas would be fairly diverse already."

Tedesco says school board members plan to work with county staff to start the community mapping process.

"We want to be careful and do it right," Tedesco said of the plan. "But we want to get the ball rolling."


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  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Dec 4, 2009

    WRAL is definitely campaigning against the new school board and ending the failed socio-economic diversity (race) based busing.

    In every article about the new school board, WRAL also spends most of the article telling us why the new school board is going to destroy the world by talking to supporters of the failed exiting school boards.

    WRAL should adopt a neutral position and report on what the new school board is doing. If they aren't neutral, they need to label the articles as editorials.

  • FoxtrotUniformCharlieKiloakaCALM Dec 4, 2009

    "Wake County is one of the most diverse counties in all of the state of North Carolina," he said. "So to that regard, we think most of those community assignment areas would be fairly diverse already."

    My god... I agree!!!!!!!!

    If you don't want to live in a "bad" neighborhood and school for your children is REALLY your #1 priority... move. Apartments count you know. There is NO area in Wake Co that someone can't move to in order to get in a "good" school district, but my guess is that those we are trying to bus into "affluent" schools will actually LIKE being with "their own". And don't be fooled they say "affluent' But what they really mean is WHITE. How is that not racist? Not all white people are rich!

  • MileageWarrior Dec 3, 2009

    why exactly do schools need to have economic diversity to be successful? im not being a terd, im serious. i don't understand it. it's not like the parents have to pay for the kids to go to school, so what does the income level have to do with a quality public school education?

  • Tawny Dec 3, 2009

    Smbz, what do you mean by stating "Tedesco is absolutely correct"?

  • MileageWarrior Dec 3, 2009

    "I fought long and hard to get my child out of her neighborhood school as it does not meet my educational standards. I also am in favor of year-round schools, which my child now attends and has attended for 6 years. I DO NOT want this option taken away from me."

    Interesting, so who exactly SHOULD be going to the school your kid would have been zoned for?

  • Tawny Dec 3, 2009

    I wonder what Tedesco and the new school board will discover when they attempt to "map out" inner city Raleigh.

  • ICTrue Dec 3, 2009

    The gloom and doom crowd needs to chill out and maybe read what the NEW board members had to say. The entire educational system is not going to completely fall apart and taxes aren't going to go through the roof because they canned a couple of foolish policies

  • ICTrue Dec 3, 2009

    "Tedesco is sadly mistaken when he thinks that most school populations will be diverse. I like the idea of having school choices, but to say that all schools will be diverse is incorrect."

    Wrong. He is absolutely correct.

    Figured I wouldn't bother with any facts since you didn't

  • Tin Nutt Dec 3, 2009

    Regarding the 2 year timeframe, I don't think anyone thought moving in a different direction was going to be easy. I support the changes that are being proposed if they will create stability and stop the near annual reassignments, though I think a better move would be to break up the WCPSS into individual city and county school systems.

  • time4real Dec 3, 2009

    put the pipe down, you couldn't be more wrong. i've tried to leave most of my thoughts out about policy 6200, but since you asked, i can walk out my front door and see 5 or 6 different economic races, so we're diverse enough for my taste. "diversity" should have ZERO to do with educating. if you're all wrapped up in that go right ahead, but whatever you were trying to spin had me laughing so hard I almost spat up my drank!