Education

Big decisions before Wake school board

Posted March 1, 2010
Updated March 3, 2010

Wake County Public School System
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— The Wake County school board could vote Tuesday whether to convert four year-round schools to traditional-calendar schedules, beginning as early as the 2010-2011 school year.

The board started its meeting at 10 a.m. and went straight into a closed session, saying they would discuss personnel matters.

The school system on Monday identified three schools – Wakefield Elementary, Leesville Road Middle and Salem Middle – where parents indicated in a survey earlier this year that they do not prefer year-round schools.

A fourth school, Mills Park Middle, which will open in the fall, is also under discussion for conversion.

The school system received nearly 40,000 responses to an online survey gauging the attitudes toward the year-round calendar, which proponents say, can accommodate more students than schools on traditional calendars.

The school calendar conversions are among a number of issues up for discussion among board members in meetings expected to last all day Tuesday.

The system’s outgoing superintendent, neighborhood, or community-based, schools and the school system’s budget for next year are also on the board’s meeting agenda.

The board will meet at 10 a.m. in a closed session to talk about outgoing Superintendent Del Burns’ future with the school system.

Burns, who announced that he’s resigning June 30, came under fire late last month for comments he made regarding the school system’s direction under the school board’s new majority. In several interviews, Burns expressed concerns that ending the system’s longstanding assignment policy of busing students to achieve socioeconomic diversity could segregate schools.

He also accused board members of “partisan political gamesmanship,” saying political ideology seems to be driving some of the decisions the board has made or is considering.

Burns has been noticeably absent from recent school board events. It’s unclear if he will be at Tuesday’s meetings.

Although it's unclear what the board is considering, the board is likely considering three options: keeping Burns in his current position until June; limiting his duties as superintendent or removing him from the post and appointing a replacement.

The school board is also expected to take a vote Tuesday on a controversial resolution to end the school system’s decade-old diversity policy in exchange for neighborhood schools.

Currently, the school district assigns students so that no school has more than 40 percent of students receiving free or reduced-price lunches. Students are reassigned each year to maintain that level, as well as to fill new schools and relieve overcrowding.

At least five of the school board's nine members have indicated that they plan to end the practice – a move they say to give parents more options in where their children attend school.

Under the school board’s community schools proposal, parents would have a choice of traditional, year-round or magnet school in their assigned area.

Board members who support the policy say changing the current plan in favor of neighborhood schools would disrupt diversity at schools.

A fourth item on the board’s agendas Tuesday is nearly $21 million in budget cuts for the upcoming school year.

At a meeting in early February, the school system’s chief business officer, David Neter, told board members that anywhere from 75 to 100 filled positions across all areas of central services could be eliminated in the system’s central services division. It would also eliminate positions that have been vacant since a hiring freeze went into effect in November 2008.

The school system is already reeling from a $35 million budget reduction that last year cut about 500 positions, mostly teachers and teaching assistants.

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  • wakemom Mar 2, 2010

    wakemom, my house was about 250k. People like you are the problem. You assume everyone who wants neighborhood schools is a racist rich white person. I am probably lower middle class. I just work hard for a living and want the best for my child and am willing to sacrifice for her - ie relocate and pay to live somewhere else.
    readme

    buying a 250k DOES NOT make your child smarter. lol

  • indyanerlady Mar 2, 2010

    I believe neighborhoods have more diversity than in the past. Kids want to go to school with kids they know and play with daily. If there is a problem in lower income neighborhoods - address the problems. Have more aids, smaller class rooms. Just because a kid is poor does not make them dumb. What exactly is the problems? As far as Del Burns, don't let the door hit'cha where the good Lord split'cha. He is like a kid that does not get his way - so they go home crying. Boy that is teaching kids a lot - right. The voters spoke when they voted in new members, and I believe the majority rules.... don't hate on people when have not tried their idea's....Grow up Burns, or get out now....don't waste tax payers money with your negativity.

  • jasdor Mar 2, 2010

    I am quite surprised that Salem Middle and Mills Park Middle are being discussed to convert with no consideration for the neighboring elementary schools. Many of us have a child at each.

  • Garnerwolf1 Mar 2, 2010

    "I don't think it is fair for my five year-old to be bused 8 miles to go to school with a higher percent of poor black kids."
    At least you're honest. Wish more of this pro-neighborhood crowd was instead of hiding behind more PC sentiments.

  • SaltlifeLady Mar 2, 2010

    Gaston-- Regarding your comment about private schools. Your comment is stereotypical but not all private schools are that way. I sent my child to private school for 13 years. I am not rich, I am a single parent who has worked atleast 2 jobs the majority of my child's life to support her.I have put myself through school twice to further my eduction. My child's school was a mix of those who were very well off,those who weren't so very well off, and those who made great sacrifices so ther children could go to a private school and get the education they did. The high school was a mix of black, white, hispanic, middle eastern, Christian and non-Christian relgions, gay and lesbian,from all backgrounds. They were taught to be selfless, giving members of the community, and to be thoughtful of those who were less fortunte than themselves. Not all private schools are a bunch of rich,white kids. I chose private school so as not to be part of the crazy reassignment issues of WCPSS.

  • readme Mar 2, 2010

    wakemom, my house was about 250k. People like you are the problem. You assume everyone who wants neighborhood schools is a racist rich white person. I am probably lower middle class. I just work hard for a living and want the best for my child and am willing to sacrifice for her - ie relocate and pay to live somewhere else.

  • mcoupe Mar 2, 2010

    Neighborhood schools!!!!!!!!!

  • momeeee Mar 2, 2010

    unc1ecu - you must live in my neighborhood. Live on the N side of WF and my child is bussed past the elem school a mile away, past another elem school and to his YR school. If we chose traditional he would be in Rolesville. I want neighborhood schools! They will be diverse and anyone who does not think so is crazy! This is not a racial issue!

  • tmh1375 Mar 2, 2010

    "They bus the poorest kids the furthest, into another town. Many of these families either have one car, no car, one working parent, or one parent. If mom is trying to take care of her family and must work until 5, and she works near her home (in east Raleigh) and the school activity starts at 5, or 430, ast their child's school in Cary or Apex, please tell me how they are supposed to get there? Or what if they have NO car? How are they supposed to get there? If these children went to schools they could walk to, then the parents could also walk and be more involved."
    cghsmom- I completely get what you are saying but the people that are complaining about the diversity policy, aren't the poor kids being bused 10 miles out of the way or their families. The one's complaining about it are the ones that feel their children will get less of an education by going to a "poor" school. That's what the problem is here.

  • Spongebob Mar 2, 2010

    I think the new board is on the right track recognizing that change needs to be implemented. I just hope they add to this mess the academic issue. Everyone talks about schedule and diversity but nobody addresses the real issue that some schools are just better than others because they have better leadership. I did not have the opportunity to vote but I am listening with an open mind. They seem to be addressing issues in a quick manner which is scaring people and I see from many posts that there are people on here who have not read through some of the issues. Anything is better than the forced system we've had for the past few years where budgets were cut, teachers lost jobs, programs were eliminated and neighbors began fighting. Give them a try and let's see what happens. Although it will take a while to get out of the mess we are in.

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