Wake County Schools

Wake school system takes next steps with assignment plan

Posted October 19, 2011
Updated October 20, 2011

— Less than 24 hours after the Wake County Board of Education approved an assignment plan aimed at giving parents more input in where their students go to school, district staff were at work spreading the word to parents about what it will mean for them.

Wake County Public School System Wake schools student assignment plan

The board voted 6-2 Tuesday in favor of the choice-model plan, which allows parents to rank their top school choices and keep students close to home.

Kevin Hill and Keith Sutton voted against it, even though they said they it could be a good plan for the county. Prior to the vote, Sutton had asked that the board table the measure for 30 days to build consensus on the board and the community, while Hill said he couldn't support it since it doesn't guarantee students from low-performing schools spots in high-performing schools.

Superintendent Tony Tata and a team of school system staff spent months developing the plan, which goes into effect beginning with the 2012-13 school year, going through a trial run and gathering community feedback on it.

Now, the district's focus for the next few months will be educating parents about the changes and walking them through the choice process.

The assignment plan website was updated Wednesday morning with details about Tuesday's vote, and by December, the district plans to launch a full interactive site with all student options.

The district also mailed letters Wednesday to all parents explaining the plan and, in the coming months, will host public events and partner with schools and local groups to make sure every parent understands.

Here's what to expect over the next several months:

  • By mid-November, parents of students already enrolled in the school system will receive their school assignments for the 2012-13 school year based on the current plan.
  • They can keep their students at their current schools or rank their top school choices from at least five elementary, two middle and two high schools based on their address. The choices include traditional-calendar, year-round calendar, magnet and other specialty options.
  • Students get priority to schools closest to their home, and priority is also given to students with siblings already in a school.
  • Once assigned to a school, students are guaranteed to remain in a feeder pattern connected to their school as they move to the next grade and school level.
  • Parents of currently enrolled students do not have to do anything if they would like to stay in their current schools, but anyone new to the school system, including all incoming kindergarteners, must rank their school choices.
  • From mid-January until late February, parents will begin choosing and ranking schools based on the options available to them. They will be notified of their assignment by mid-March.
  • A second choice-selection period will open up in mid-March for any parent who did not participate in the first round. Assignments based on those choices will be made by mid-April.
  • Official assignment notifications will be sent home in mid-May.

Tata on Tuesday told the board, which had been urged by parents and community groups to delay the vote, that it was necessary to adopt the three-year plan now to allow time for proper implementation.

Initially, he said, it will cost approximately $700,000 to pay for extra busing, marketing and community outreach.

The plan includes constant monitoring and evaluation, and changes will be made as needed, Tata has said.

It is still unclear what, if any changes, three newly elected school board members might recommend when they take their seats in December.


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  • Realthoughts Oct 19, 2011

    Twany... you asked what I am doing. I am being a part of everything my daughter is doing. I'm a member of the booster club that helps keep the programs she does going. I don't miss a single game she competes in. And, most of all I encourage her and her classmates to give it all there best.

    What is the last school activity you attended. How many booster clubs are you involved in? Do you participate in PTA meetings. Get involved!

  • Realthoughts Oct 19, 2011

    Funny Twany.... The media never show what the good Rev has done for any community except divide people.

    Someone commented why the MLK statue was frowning.... Because there are people like Rev Barbour who work harder at pushing people apart then bringing them together.

    Twany....When you can please list out all these good community programs that Rev Barbour is working so hard at. Tell us all just how he is getting parents to work closer with their kids, keeping them involved with their kids.

  • Nancy Oct 19, 2011

    SoundsFishy - WCPSS pays for their fuel:

    "Oct. 3, 2011 - Wake County taxpayers could save almost $600,000 this year thanks to a timely bulk fuel purchase by the Wake County Public School System's Transportation Department. It's the second fiscal year in a row WCPSS purchasers have been able to lock in favorable prices well below budget.

    "Since July, our team has been monitoring fuel prices closely looking for an opportunity to create significant savings," said Bob Snidemiller, senior director of transportation. "We were concerned coming into the year because prices were hitting close to our budget price per gallon. So we're thrilled to be able to create these savings instead."

    "Whenever we go to the market, director of fleet maintenance Jeff Moore bids every fuel load purchased to get the best price that day," said Snidemiller. "If the bid is more than the state contract price, we buy from state contract, but this rarely happens. Jeff is almost always able to get the fuel a few cent

  • Nancy Oct 19, 2011

    "I always thought busing was used to achieve the court ordered racial mix. Is that no longer an issue?"

    There is no court order to bus for racial mix, it was decided by the SC a long time ago.

  • Nancy Oct 19, 2011

    "During the last board meeting they were talking about bus prices to cover the all the possible school options for elementary children. I think there is a good chance the new plan will be higher busing costs."

    Yes, in the first cycle since parents will be able to opt to keep their children in their current school until they 'age out' of the system. So if a parent wants to keep their elementary age child in the same school and on the same feeder pattern, until all those students move through, there will be overlay.

  • geosol Oct 19, 2011

    Well, there's really no reason to get too upset about another waste of our TAXPAYER MONEY by the right wing school board members. We'll fix it in a few months and hopefully that will be an end to right wing activism in our school board. People are now aware that we don't need people who want to get rid of public education in charge of our schools!

  • Dr. Obvious Oct 19, 2011

    I wish people would stop blaming the parents of underperforming children; the biggest problem with this country is that it's illegal to call a kid a dummy. It's not right to tell a kid he is gifted or special or whatever the politically correct term is when the kid is just dumb.

  • bigal02282 Oct 19, 2011

    Wow! So many experts and ALL of know "the real reason" and have "the only answer". Kinda makes you wonder how anything ever gets done when you put two or more people together. I'm just feeling all warm and fuzzy knowing we have such a great group of experts RIGHT HERE to solve about every earthly problem that comes along. I just wish all you folks had done something SOONER. Just posting the answers to all of society's ills here will never accomplish ANYTHING. Get out there and FIX EVERYTHING! Oh, and HURRY UP, we're waiting for nirvana!

  • Tawny Oct 19, 2011

    What makes you think that Rev. Barber was not already involved in strenghtening communities with the activities that you mentioned.

    Yes! A "strong community" reflects a "strong school". Unfortunately, it takes more than one reverend to strengthen a community. What are you doing to help?

  • Realthoughts Oct 19, 2011

    The whole busing issue/community school issue has never really been about either issue. It has always been about low performing schools and moving kids around so as the low performing school doesn't look so bad.

    That is the root of this whole issue. The challenge is to turn low performing schools into better performing schools. That is what we should be asking the school board to do instead spending all this time on busing.

    And, yes it can be done. If Rev Barbour would spend more time in the community helping kids stay off the streets and out of gangs perhaps the drop out rates would go down. If he would spend as much time creating after school programs, helping parents and kids focus more on educational activities, maybe we would see test scores go up.

    A school is more than just a building full of teachers. It takes the involvement, parents, churches, people of the community and more. Spend less time protesting and more time doing things with your child.