Wake County Schools

Last-minute changes proposed for Wake student assignment plan

Posted January 3, 2012
Updated January 4, 2012

Wake County Public School System
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— Just two weeks before Wake County's new student assignment plan is set to take effect, some school board members said they're not comfortable supporting it and proposed last-minute changes. 

Three newly elected board members, all Democrats, joined the rest of the board Tuesday afternoon for a work session to discuss questions and concerns surrounding the new choice-model plan, which was approved in October when Republican members had the majority.

The plan passed 7-2, with "no" votes coming from Kevin Hill and Keith Sutton, who now hold the chair and vice chair seats on the board.

Parents are supposed to begin ranking school choices on Jan. 17, but the new Democratic majority asked for more time to work on the plan and better inform parents of how it will work.

Board member Chris Malone, however, said putting the plan on hold could be a "disaster."

"I am really concerned about the instability of the system and where people are going to be going to schools," he said.

Jim Martin Is Wake County ready for new assignment plan?

Despite information sessions and other outreach efforts over the last few months, board member Jim Martin said he doesn't think parents fully understand the plan.

"Is the communication getting to the right places? I went to (an information) session where I did not feel people understand the plan," he said. "Was that a fluke session?"

Susan Evans, who defeated former Chairman Ron Margiotta for the District 8 seat, said discussing the plan in detail is crucial to get new board members to support it and believe it can be successful. 

"Is there enough space to have more time to work on this?" she asked. "I want to make sure this will work (and) I'm not there yet."

Concerns about the plan centered mostly on new feeder patterns that guarantee students in an elementary school move on to specific middle schools and high schools, but board members also raised issues with the cost of the plan and the number of seats available in magnet schools.

Superintendent Tony Tata said that, despite concerns, he expects the plan to be on track and on time for implementation.

"I am confident we are moving forward," he said. "I really feel good about the plan."

James Overman, who led the task force charged with developing a student assignment proposal, said he acknowledges the plan isn't perfect, but that it's the best step for Wake County right now. 

There were some heated exchanges at Tuesday's meeting when board member Debra Goldman learned that new board members and Hill had met with education consultant Michael Alves without alerting or including the rest of the board. The new assignment plan is largely based on Alves' choice model.

"I think it's great the new board members were given that opportunity, but I don't think it's transparent by any stretch that the rest of the board was not even notified of this (and) that the public didn't know," Goldman said.

Hill argued that board veterans had previously met with Alves and that the recent meeting was only intended to bring new board members up to speed.

79 Comments

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  • GotSome Jan 6, 2012

    It's all smoke and mirrors, friends. While the part of the plan that establishes feeder patterns is valid, the high performing schools have too few seats available to accommodate students that want a different option.

  • Shamrock Jan 5, 2012

    I agree with JaneyJo that this plan needs cost research.

    davmci29 - so just because the previous boards rammed forced busing and VOLUNTARY yrs, you think it is OK this board is RAMMING a new plan through without the appropriate research? There are soooo many unanswered questions and it all boils down to the former majority trying to accomplish something before they were voted out.

  • davmci29 Jan 5, 2012

    "You can thank the last majority for rushing instead of thinking and working through the outstanding questions in order to develop a solid plan"....

    janeyjo, No you can THANK the board before that who RAMMED forced busing and forced YR round schools. That set in motion a series of events that SWEPT thru the elections of the previous board.

    This plan isn't prefect, but it has a far better chance of success than what we were force fed back in 2008.

    Put the kids in schools where the parents have a fighting chance of participating in the extra-curricular stuff and lets see what happens.

    Again, this plan isn't perfect, but what we had was horrible. So lets try something else.

  • beaupeep Jan 4, 2012

    "When students attend schools that are more economically balanced, all students benefit. Middle class and upper class students do not lose anything and the lower class students gain a better education."

    I beg to differ! Mine have suffered. Not only with discipline problems, but the AG classes got cut in favor of "remedial".

    How is that not hurting my kid?

  • LBJ192 Jan 4, 2012

    "Fine, but we waste that much money every year on wasted transportation. I never hear him moan about that"

    Going to be a lot more moaning about costs when the new plan is rushed through and implemented without a cost analysis. Several buses running through each neighborhood each day is stupid. This new plan will result in either higher taxes/ bonds, or will be discontinued within the next couple of years due to costs. You can thank the last majority for rushing instead of thinking and working through the outstanding questions in order to develop a solid plan.

  • josiebird2 Jan 4, 2012

    Amen, rickbrown64. School boards are not supposed to be divisive politically-motivated positions. Republicans have made it clear that they will not stand for people being neutral on any issue and forced our board to become what it became nearly 3 years ago- a bunch of babies fighting over who wins. The real losers are the children, in this case, socio-economically disadvantaged children. See our diversity policy was unique for many years because we did NOT base our policies on race, but rather on where it should be. The "poor" children tend to do much worse on testing when they attend "neighborhood" schools as opposed to attending schools with more economically advantaged kids. Middle class schools perform the highest on standardized testing (yes, Google has that info). When students attend schools that are more economically balanced, all students benefit. Middle class and upper class students do not lose anything and the lower class students gain a better education.

  • Screw WrAl Jan 4, 2012

    "Give it up, superman. The old site was inappropriate and purchased from friends of the previous old board. follow the money trail."

    Amen. He's been harping on that since he got out of diapers. Fine, but we waste that much money every year on wasted transportation. I never hear him moan about that.

  • rickbrown64 Jan 4, 2012

    I've been watching this go on for years. I am so sick of this school assignment changes and board policy changes. Parents never know where their kids are going to be assigned year to year. The board is a staff of unqualified elected members. Who are not educated in the running of a school system. It's time the school system quits being a political agenda and starts educating and managing the system. And we listen to the Superintendent. He was hired to run the system. Maybe it's time we hire a management company to run it and get the special interest groups out of it. It needs to be a positive part of the community, not divisive.

  • beaupeep Jan 4, 2012

    "What is astounding--and profoundly disturbing--is that education reform at the national level has basically ignored the type of findings so powerfully outlined in HOPE AND DESPAIR IN THE AMERICAN CITY."

    Ever think there might be a reason for that?

  • beaupeep Jan 4, 2012

    "Beaupeep: http://www.brookings.edu/brown/ecci.aspx"

    Still looking for that "national acclaim" part....

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