Supporters of school board majority plan to attend meeting

Posted July 20, 2010

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— Supporters of a community-based student assignment plan for Wake County schools waited in line Tuesday to get seating vouchers for an afternoon school board meeting.

About 60 people showed up at the Wake County Public School system headquarters on Wake Forest Road by to be among 250 able to attend in person the school board's 3 p.m. meeting.

The school board's decision to stop basing student assignment on socio-economic diversity and move to a community-based assignment model has been a contentious issue in the community, and approximately 1,000 opponents of the policy rallied in downtown earlier Tuesday.

The decision is supported by a 5-4 majority on the board, including four members elected last November.

"This is what they promised when they were running for office," said Donna Williams, president of the Northern Wake Republican Club, who was among the first in line for Tuesday's meeting. "I just feel like they should have a positive thank-you from some people in the group today."

Opponents of the policy change are also expected at the afternoon meeting.

Williams said she would have no problem with them coming to the school board meeting.

"That's part of what makes America, America. We are all allowed to have our own thoughts and feelings," she said. "Personally, I do not agree with what the other side is saying today, but it's not up to me. I am not going to get into a confrontation with them."

About half of the seating vouchers were still available as of shortly after 1:30 p.m.

Seating is limited inside the school board's meeting room, so vouchers are used to guarantee seating. About 100 are available for the meeting room itself, and 150 for overflow rooms with a video feed of the meeting.

Once the rooms are full, people will be asked to stand outside the building until seats become available.

People who wish to speak during the public comment period can sign up between 12:30 p.m. and 3:45 p.m. They will be admitted to speak regardless of whether they have a seating voucher.

The policy lead to a lawsuit earlier this year in which a group of Wake County residents claimed the school board violated state open meeting laws. A judge dismissed the complaint in May but asked that some changes be made.

In addition to the vouchers, the school system has hired eight off-duty police officers to provide security for Tuesday's meeting.

The move comes after a June 15 meeting in which state NAACP President Rev. William Barber and three others were arrested on trespassing charges after they disrupted the meeting.

Security costs for school board meetings have gone up dramatically amid crowded meetings since the new school majority was seated last December.

School system data shows that between July and November of last year, $451.58 was spent on security at school board meetings, while $14,719.39 was spent between December 2009 and April of this year.


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  • dtrrn Jul 20, 2010

    How many of the people there to protest are Wake county taxpayers? How many have school aged children? The registered voters had their opportunity to speak and they did. These people ran on the platform of community schools. When we purchased our home last year, the first thing we considered was our children's school district. We were limited on our home selection to the ones in our school district. If you want a different school, move to that community. Children should not be required to have a long bus ride to and from school. Think of the money that can be saved on transportation. With less transportation costs, we could hire more teachers.

  • Lickad Jul 20, 2010

    I saw a bunch of out of town church buses at the Brownstone this morning... I wonder what they were doing here.

  • pdiggity Jul 20, 2010

    I agree with DavyCrockett. The current plan is outdated and doesn't work - it's not helping kids acheive, which is all that matters. Forced equal opportunity is a ridiculous policy, as is busing kids all over the place to be politically correct.
    The voters put the school board in place knowing they'd change to community based schools.
    It's a vast minority coming out picketing against community based schools - the supporters are sitting at home getting peeved at the fact that this small vocal minority thinks they get to solely decide the direction of the school district. Racism is a thing of the past, get over it, it has nothing to do with it. Community based schools will be better for the kids in the long run.

  • tgiv Jul 20, 2010

    The simple solution is to have all board members be elected district wide. Instead of supporting only the schools in the neighborhoods where their money is coming from, they will be forced to represent the interests of the entire district. That will eliminate all questions of the will of the people. The current board majority are far more interested in enhancing their patronage machine than providing quality education to all students. It's gotten so good, they're starting to quit their day jobs.

  • DavyCrockett Jul 20, 2010

    eemrlds, Put down the bong and get out among the district residents. Based on your comment, I'm confident you are about to be extremely disappointed in November. Also, if anything, I expect the 5 in the majority to grow after the next school board election cycle to 6 or even 7.

  • bcovert Jul 20, 2010

    @wmunny: Not all citizens want community-based schools. Beyond the fact that I agree that reversing these policies will reverse desegregation efforts, children are enhanced by experiencing people who are different than them. Don't take my word, though. Read this account of a woman who grew up in the busing system in Raleigh, and even though it was sometimes a hassle, how much she values it:

  • eemrlds Jul 20, 2010

    If some of these commenters could count, then they would know that this school board won a majority of the votes with ~5% of the voting population. Some of these voters, including myself, didnot know the real "intent" of this board.It is for this reason, the surveys reflected 95% of the respondents were NOT satified in the direction of this board. Hold an election TODAY and this majority would clearly be OUT of office.

  • mirer03 Jul 20, 2010

    Lets be honest here... I am not against community based schools, but I am against the ending of the highly successful magnet programs, as well as for year round schools. This board is not what makes america great. They were voted in by what 4% of registered voters? They act like they have a mandate and do NOT. Making these changes with no forethought is running experienced teachers into early retirement because they either are now at a school with low numbers, or pushing them out of the school system because they don't want to be in a non desirable school. Its great our children can go to street down the road, but id much rather send them across town and let them get a quality education then filling up Wake County schools with a bunch of straight out of college teachers. This is happening and is often ignored. This change will get kids home from less effective schools quicker...great legacy there.

  • carrieb Jul 20, 2010

    Or is it that approximately 60 people who have flex time professional jobs (or spouses whose income allows them to be full-time parents) showed up during the business day to support the new board ... This thread continues to make the point that the issue really is whether or not we'll have economic diversity and its benefits in our schools.

  • caholz Jul 20, 2010

    I am a Wake County citizen who agrees with the majority of voters in supporting community based schools. I can appreciate the existence of dissenting opinions - however, to equate the new policy with racial segregation and civil rights oppression is ridiculous. The marching and protesting is an insult to the validity and bravery associated with the historical civil rights movement. Furthermore, I can't think of anything more discriminatory than the suggestion that any particular neighborhood would be incapable of building strong community schools to nurture the children that live and play there.