Wake County Schools

Wake student assignment plan to be presented Tuesday

Posted October 3, 2011
Updated October 4, 2011

— Wake County school board members will get their first look this week at a new student assignment plan aimed at giving parents more choices about where their students go to school.

School system Superintendent Tony Tata is expected to present the plan – the product of seven months of work by a special task force – to the board at a work session Tuesday afternoon.

A vote on the plan is expected Oct. 18.

Tata told reporters Friday that waiting any longer would only hurt parents and students.

"We've got to get in there to make sure everyone understands how this works, because it is fundamentally different," he said. "Instead of being told where you are going to school, you get to choose."

Under the plan, which replaces the district's longstanding practice of busing students for socio-economic diversity, parents would have at least five elementary school choices – including traditional, year-round, magnet and high-performing schools – based on where they live.

Each elementary school has multiple middle and high schools associated with it, and parents have the option each school year to change their assignment.

Some, however, have called for the district to hold off on moving forward with the plan.

"I think this is an incomplete plan," said Patty Williams, co-founder of Great Schools In Wake Coalition, which works to strengthen public education throughout the county. "I think there is no reason to rush to get things done for next year."

Despite 21,000 participants earlier this year in a trial run of the plan, 21 public hearings on the matter and more than 2,700 online comments, Williams says many parents' questions remain unanswered, and she points out that the trial used to get feedback did not use the actual school choices.

"There is a lot of concern about everything from feeder patterns to the extraordinary costs that will be associated with implementing a choice plan," she said.

Tata admits transportation costs will go up as they make the transition but should level off.

He says the plan is the best way to guarantee stability while managing growth. At the district's current growth rate, enrollment is expected to approach 200,000 students in approximately 195 schools in 10 years, the district says.

Although the plan is moving forward, Tata said the district is still listening to parents and adjusting the plan as needed.

Another public hearing is scheduled for 5 p.m. Oct. 13 at Broughton High School in Raleigh. Online registration begins at the school system's website at 9 a.m. on Oct. 8. Anyone interested in speaking can also sign up at the door between 4 p.m. and 4:50 p.m. on the day of the hearing. Speakers are limited to two minutes.

"We can make changes that day, the next day. We can work through the weekend," he said. "This is important. We are going to get it right."


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  • Remy Oct 4, 2011

    Nancy, I can understand how getting moved around so much can be a problem.

  • Nancy Oct 4, 2011

    "Sort of.....you can't always get exactly what you want, but you may have a better shot at it." - juniper

    Exactly. You'll know that you won't get yanked around on a whim at the boards choosing, which is how it was for so long.

    Or have your neighborhood split in three parts one year, two the next etc. Very strange approach to 'education', moving kids willy nilly and parents never knowing what was going to happen the following year.

    And no surprise "all schools going year round" votes - that was pretty brazen too.

  • Remy Oct 4, 2011

    Sure it is, YOU get to decide, not the school board shuffle of reassingment without your input.
    Novel, I know.

    Sort of.....you can't always get exactly what you want, but you may have a better shot at it.

  • Nancy Oct 4, 2011

    "HUMMMM -- sounds like the current plan. Folks - the choices were always there. This plan is not new!!!" - a wake mom

    Sure it is, YOU get to decide, not the school board shuffle of reassingment without your input.

    Novel, I know.

  • Nancy Oct 4, 2011

    "Tata is now just a soldier. He is no longer a general. He will follow the orders and direction of the board or he will be placed on administative leave like the board did the last supt. If the plan works the board will get the credit. If it doesnt work it is his plan and he will take the heat. Hope he hasnt unpacked his personal belongings." superman

    You would be wrong about Dell Burns being put on administrative leave. You need to check your facts, he quit.

  • Remy Oct 4, 2011

    "It's best for over-taxed people like yourself to stay home. Your life is so darn busy no one wants you to burdened with more things to do. Poor baby."

    "Those who vote, the few that bother, are in a small group. Look in the mirror parents, you are to blame."
    Both from YouMakeItSoEasy

    One comment you smart off because someone says the meetings are inconvenient (which they are) and another you complain that no one votes. If you want voters to partipate, then make it easier for them to get the information. Afterall, these are the people paying taxes, unlike yourself that seem to always be on here.

  • Nancy Oct 4, 2011

    "Uhmmm, does the school board know school started over a month ago?"

    I believe this is for the upcoming school year, not the current one.

  • RB aka Spirit Warrior Woman Oct 4, 2011

    pepis - "Stop all the hassle in your family's life--send your children to private (in our experience lots of financial aid and scholarships available) or charter schools (many in Wake County rated tops in nation). In fact devote your energy to demanding and supporting more top rated charter schools."

    I have a better idea. Move to Harnett.

  • RB aka Spirit Warrior Woman Oct 4, 2011

    Uhmmm, does the school board know school started over a month ago?

  • cjw6105 Oct 4, 2011

    4 of Wake's 9 school district voters have no vote at all in the upcoming election. And the 5 districts that do vote are allowed to vote on only one school board spot. We have a countywide assignment system, not a system where you attend school in the district your school board rep represents.

    This is one of two major problems in the Wake system, the other problem is that we're saddled with a school administration that makes racial balance their holy grail. For over 30 years they have not demonstrated they could diversify the schools without forcing thousands of students to attend schools far from home.

    All this talk about the "small" number of students who are forcibly assigned has been an attempt by the diversity police to downplay what parents want more than anything- neighborhood schools. Administrators say that it's only a small number who are forcibly bused, but 5% of well over a hundred thousand is no small number, and when it's your neighborhood, that's a big deal.