Wake County Schools

Wake school board sends off departing members

Posted November 22, 2011

Wake County Public School System
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— There was an amicable, nostalgic air at the Wake County school board meeting in Cary Tuesday as departing board Chairman Ron Margiotta and members Dr. Anne McLaurin and Carolyn Morrison said goodbye.

New members Susan Evans, Jim Martin and Christine Kushner – all Democrats – will be sworn in Dec. 6, shifting the balance of power on the board from a Republican to a Democratic majority.

Tensions on the board ran high at times, especially in the last two years, when the Republican majority voted to overturn a decade-long, nationally recognized student assignment policy that bused students to help maintain socio-economic diversity in all schools.

The decision sparked heated debate among board members and controversy in the community.

"The last four years are not what I had in mind for how things were going to go," McLaurin said.

Still, members exchanged messages of thanks and appreciation to each other for their service.

"The public doesn't realize how much we respect each other," Vice Chairman John Tedesco said.

Ron Margiotta Departing Wake school board members say goodbye

Margiotta, who spent 8 years on the board, said he is proud of what the board has accomplished in that time, particularly in hiring Superintendent Tony Tata and developing a new student assignment plan focused on parental choice.

"I believe our discussions, some more heated than others, exposed inequities in our school system," he said. 

But he expects the assignment plan he helped develop to endure after he's gone.

"I can't see major changes coming," he said.

Susan Evans, who defeated Margiotta in October for the District 8 seat serving southern Wake County, said that while the new board plans to take a hard look at student assignment, she didn't expect to make "big, immediate changes."

Democrats Kevin Hill and Keith Sutton won re-election to keep their board seats, and McLaurin and Morrison did not seek re-election.


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  • Cary Progressive Nov 23, 2011

    The problem with the Republican-led school board was that they acted like partisans and dictators. And thank God one of their own stopped them from instituting a plan that segregated poor kids into their "neighborhood" schools. That said, kids need some stability, not to mention their parents, so I can empathize (oh noes!) with conservative parents whose kids were bussed around the county and repeatedly forced to change schools, even if it created a fair system. The board needs to find a balance between fairness of the system (rich and poor kids having same access to quality education) and proximity/stability. Fairness should trump proximity though.

  • Cary Progressive Nov 23, 2011

    YouMakeItSoEasy, you are obsessed. To you and all the other Republicans, please stop the whining. You lost the election because Wake County was made a laughing stock and voters came out to vote out your people. That said, criticism of the bussing policy is valid (kids need consistency IMO) but somehow, some way, fairness has to rule the day. Poor kids MUST have equal access to quality education as rich kids. I can't even express how sick I am from Republican greed. When they take it out on kids, I will always speak up and fight them on it.

  • LessGvt Nov 23, 2011

    Looks as if all the new school board members got a wake county education. They have no idea what they are doing and will make things even worse. Why not at least try the new plan, you might be surprised that it may actually work and benefit the kids. Leave your political games to the professionals in Washington and do what is right for a change.

  • westernwake1 Nov 23, 2011

    "Actually, the reassigning is due to the rapid population growth. You're a victim of Cary's success, not of the 'bus for diversity' issue." - babbleon

    This is not true. The old school board stated directly in a meeting that the changes in assignment were due to diversity and not growth. If they wanted to handle growth then the school board would have simply assigned the new neighborhood to a different school. Instead they moved around nodes to different schools every year attempting to achieve racial (then later social/economic) diversity.

  • rand321 Nov 23, 2011

    I have yet to see what Bush or Obama has to do with the assignment plan?

    Unfortunately, many parents now believe their kids will be in the school closest to their house and they will know their high school form kindergarten.

    The GOP board and Ron, ran it as if they were a dictatorship. Given the problems that have arisen over the last few years, they did nothing to try to address the strengths and weaknesses of the school system and the issues and needs they will have for the next 5 to 20 years. WE had political wannabes use partisan politics to drive the process, causing as many, if not more problems than the old boards.

    We all want high performing schools, stability in assignment, short bus rides or commutes and choice of calendar. Wake County taxpayers have demonstrated via the bond ballots and County Com. to keep taxes as low as possible. Ron missed a great opportunity to build consensus around a long term plan and common objectives.

    Very sad.

  • apexdad2000 Nov 23, 2011

    so far Tata has seemed to be reasonable, so that's Ron's best shot for a legitimate legacy, let's all hope.

  • babbleon Nov 23, 2011

    I suspect that Tata will be sending out resumes shortly. Just a suspicion. BigUNCFan

    You know, I don't think so. Mr. Tata seems to be doing a good job of getting data and stakeholder buy-in without bowing to partisan pressure. I voted for the new board, and I hope they keep him.

  • babbleon Nov 23, 2011

    Maybe you would have a different perspective if you lived in Cary and your child was forced to change schools 8 times over 13 years of education (K-12) in order to support the old diversity policy. westernwake1

    Actually, the reassigning is due to the rapid population growth. You're a victim of Cary's success, not of the 'bus for diversity' issue.

    Additionally, the new plan, which allows for 1 *re*assignment per each school level (elem, middle, high) still allows for 6 schools in 13 years. They have to, because we still have a lot of growth. Iirc, the plan is 6 new schools a year for the next decade, just as it has been for the last decade. Not being able to reassign as many kids means the new schools will open under capacity, which means they are more expensive to operate per capita, which means?

    Oh, yeah: school stability just cost us more.

    I just hope you don't complain when your tax bills go up, westernwake.

  • bigal02282 Nov 23, 2011

    hey harmstrong4... why YES, I voted for our current President, and I will be voting for him once again, based upon the fact that there is no better alternative, political affiliation aside. Now, WHAT exactly does that have to do with the fact that my child attended school there and ended up being a well-rounded, highly educated person of good moral character and never had any problems being bused or otherwise moved from any school to any other school? I'm only guessing here, but I think some folks just hate the fact that little Johnny or lil Ginger has to sit in class with people who do not look, act or think like them. Well you know something? I grew up in the Cumberland County School System where we were bused, but where we were also exposed to people from all over the WORLD who might not have shared every view we had, but who added immensely to our knowledge and understanding of many cultures. We were probably a much more cosmopolitan system than any where else in the US.

  • BigUNCFan Nov 23, 2011

    I suspect that Tata will be sending out resumes shortly. Just a suspicion.