Wake County Schools

Attention shifts to Wake schools student assignment, budget

Posted November 9, 2011

— The victor of a closely watched runoff for the Wake County Board of Education called Wednesday for board members to put the election behind them and to pull together, so they can make small changes to a new student assignment policy and prepare to deal with a looming budget shortfall.

Kevin Hill, the incumbent for the school board's District 3 seat, defeated his Republican-backed opponent, Heather Losurdo, Tuesday. Democrats will have a majority on the school board once he and four other Democratic-backed candidates elected in October take office in December.

"I don't know that I want to talk about working with Republicans versus Democrats," Hill said. "We need to talk about coming together as a school board and not talk about party, but talk about what nine of us can do for all our kids in Wake County."

The central issue of the campaign was the work of the current Republican-majority school board to overturn the student assignment policy of busing students for diversity in favor of a policy that gives parents more input in where their children go to school.

Hill said Tuesday night that although he voted against the assignment plan, he has no intention of returning to the district's old way of assigning students.

He said he likes the new plan and thinks it can work with some tweaks. He wants to ensure classroom seats in high-performing schools are reserved for low-performing students.

The new assignment plan will soon go into operation, when the selection process for magnet schools starts on Dec. 5, Superintendent Tony Tata said.

Kevin Hill Attention shifts to Wake schools student assignment, budget

"I'm very confident in the plan. It's a good plan," Tata said. "We are moving quite rapidly, as we need to, so that parents understand what their choices are."

John Tedesco, the school board's vice chairman, said Tuesday night that he will keep an open mind about the new board, but he will fight hard against any attempts to undo accomplishments from the past two years.

"We'll have to see what their agenda is," he said of the new board members. "If they are willing to support Tata, and if they're willing to leave the new assignment plan that we've put in place alone and work to move forward on other issues of student achievement, then I am willing to work with them on that."

Tata, a retired Army general, said his three decades in the military have accustomed him to deal with "changes in command."

Hill: Budget No. 1 issue for Wake schools Hill: Budget No. 1 issue for Wake schools

"The one constant is that you just remain focused on the mission and everything will be OK. And our mission is to improve student achievement and take care of parents," he said.

After the immediate concerns about student assignment, Hill said, the school district needs to focus on the budget.

"Budget's (the) No. 1 (issue) really," Hill said. "I think the budget is going to be crucial in the coming year or two in terms of having money to provide good programs for our children."

Tata said the district faces a "$28 million funding cliff" for the 2012-13 budget when funds from a federal stimulus program, EduJobs, dry up. Hill said that shortfall is a major concern.

"The last few years, we've been cutting pretty tight to the bone as it is, so I do think that's the top issue that we have to worry about," Hill said.

Tata said he's been meeting with his business manager and budget team and plans to propose a budget dealing with the shortfall in March.

"We're finding ways to mitigate that and to get to where we need to be next year with a good budget submission," he said.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • randall0123a Nov 17, 2011

    What a joke. People segregate themselves to a neighborhood and then blame the school when all of their kids attend together. It's laughable. If you want diversity, then don't congregate to the same neighborhood or area. Wow, it's so simple, but yet some find that so complicated to grasp. And if you somehow justify sending a poorly performing child to a high performing school, you also then have to send a high-performing kid to a low-performing school. Wow, is this the new reward program we have going in this country? Work hard, and be punished? Perform poorly, and be rewarded?

  • Shamrock Nov 10, 2011

    "Now let the mass exodus begin.


    Since you are sending yours to private school, that is one less we have to worry about. Any more takers?

  • Screw WrAl Nov 10, 2011

    " if the board determines that the cost can't be justified, then that to me is reason enough not to proceed. "

    That's not the reason they won't go forward and you know it. If you are a truthful person that is. It will be funded by you, the tax payer. You don't get a say, especially now that the board is back in the hands of those who have lied, covered up and rigged our school system from its inception.

    And to correct you again, the new plan wasn't wanted by the 'majority', it was demanded by the parents who should absolutely be the ones to decide. But they won't get that chance now. Once again I say great job voters. Now let the mass exodus begin.


  • Ilovemyboys Nov 9, 2011

    YouMakeItSoEasy - if the board determines that the cost can't be justified, then that to me is reason enough not to proceed. Before a plan is implemented, all of the associated expenses should be identified and it should be known how it will be funded. As a tax payer, I want the due diligence to be done up front, not after the fact. They should complete a cost-benefit analysis to make sure it is the right thing to do; otherwise, it's like sending a kid into a toy store with a limitless credit card. Just plain stupid. Wants vs. Needs and can we afford it? I think it has been established that the majority 'want' the new plan - but I don't consider it a 'need'. So if we can't afford it, then we don't do it or make changes to it so that it is affordable.

  • Screw WrAl Nov 9, 2011

    "Even Hill said he would not reverse the plan."

    Means nothing.

    "there is no reason to reverse the decision"

    Just wait until you hear the reason(s) why they certainly will reverse this plan.

  • jnc67 Nov 9, 2011

    All of the conversation about diversity bussing, etc. is moot. The new assignment plan has been passed, and there is no reason to reverse the decision. Even Hill said he would not reverse the plan. It is time now to stop slamming Wake County Schools and let the business of educating our students begin.

  • Screw WrAl Nov 9, 2011

    "Hope Wake County has plenty of gas for the buses..."

    The cost to fill 'er up is about to go up too. A bunch.

  • Screw WrAl Nov 9, 2011

    "Why would it benefit anyone to put "low perfoming students" in high performing schools? That is just shifting the problem from one school to another without actually trying to fix whatever is wrong."

    You've figured it out! Oh if the rest of this county full of ignorant voters had your smarts we wouldn't be waist deep in this sewer. That's what Wake County has been doing for decades!! Shuffling the problem to keep the free money from Washington flowing. That's what your school system has been allowed to get away with for as long as I can remember.

    Good job Perry Mason.

  • smcallah Nov 9, 2011

    "Hope Wake County has plenty of gas for the buses..."

    You mean for the NEW buses that have to be bought for the newly released assignment plan that will add many new bus routes because parents can suddenly pick from 4 or 5 schools instead of being assigned a school and having a specific bus route?

  • hpr641 Nov 9, 2011

    "the school may be the cause for the low performance in that particular child. Even the smartest kids can perform badly in the wrong circumstances."
    - haggis basher


    If we have a school that is the CAUSE of ANY child's low performance, then let's fix the SCHOOL instead of spreading around some of the school's students.