Wake County Schools

Questions linger about Wake student assignment plan

Posted January 9, 2012
Updated January 10, 2012

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— An outspoken critic of the old Wake County school board majority is calling on the new board to delay the district's new way of assigning students to schools.

Great Schools in Wake Coalition issued a statement Monday calling the implementation of the choice-based student assignment model "rapid and reckless" and said it was "being driven through at breakneck speed."

The group said more time is needed to determine how much the plan will cost the school system. Feeder patterns also need to be re-evaluated, and how it will affect magnet school seating also needs to be assessed, it said. Wake County Public School System Wake County schools coverage

"The public has been offered what is essentially a glorified PR and marketing plan," Great Schools In Wake Chairwoman Yevonne Brannon said.

The plan, which goes into effect in the fall, aims to provide more stability and choice by allowing students to go to the school or schools they prefer without the possibility of being reassigned, which can happen under the current decade-old policy of busing students so that all schools have a diverse socioeconomic student population.

Parents start the so-called choice selection process on Jan. 17.

Some school board members, last week, cited similar concerns to Great Schools In Wake, and also called for the plan to be halted temporarily.

The board has a meeting Tuesday, during which Superintendent Tony Tata and his staff are expected to address those concerns. (Watch the school board meeting live on WRAL.com beginning at 1 p.m.)

If the board decides to make changes to or delay the plan, it's unclear how that could affect student assignment for 2012-13.

Assignment plan Groups wants to delay Wake assignment plan

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Tata said he wasn't expecting a delay.

"I think the student assignment plan is broadly supported by our community," he said. "So, we are proceeding with the long-standing timeline to give parents the greatest amount of time to consider their options."

But Brannon said parents still don't fully understand the plan and "are unaware of the significant costs and considerable upheaval that awaits our community."

"There is little guarantee that the purported priorities of the plan – proximity, stability and choice – are, in fact, actually realized if the plan is implemented in its current state," she said.

Some parents, like Beth Lewis, however, are ready to move forward.

Lewis has three children at Middle Creek Elementary School, where she serves as PTA president.

Under the old plan, she said, her rising sixth-grader would have been split up from friends assigned to three different middle schools. Under the new plan, they can stay together at the closest school.

"In general, I am pleased with the assignment plan," she said.

Lewis said a guaranteed elementary, middle and high school path will also help PTA groups with volunteers and fundraising.

"It dramatically weakens the PTA if you have an assignment policy where parents are not guaranteed their children will go to that school the next year," Lewis said.

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  • LBJ192 Jan 11, 2012

    western - don't know about all that. What you call average school system is not WC, and therefore is comparing apples to oranges and is of no use to WC. Since you can't provide any docs to support what you say, I will have to remain skeptical about most of your comments.

  • westernwake1 Jan 11, 2012

    "It looks like the 80% you referenced includes ALL school systems some of which only have 1 elem, MS,and HS." - JaneyJo

    Yes, the 80% includes all U.S. public school districts. The average U.S. school district includes one high school, two middle schools, and four elementary schools.

    For the past 10 years, Wake is actually not one of the fastest growing districts in the U.S. There are at least 50 school districts in the U.S. that have grown quicker with rates well over 200%. Most are in moderate size cities or suburbs that most people never heard of, These systems on average enroll 5,000 to 20,000 students (which is less than Wake). Nearly none of these high growth school districts have ever re-assigned an existing household to a different base school.

    In order for Wake schools to keep up with the growth of sub-divisions a "adequate public facilities ordinance" is needed to approve new sub-divisions. Cary tried this about 10 years ago but got overruled.

  • LBJ192 Jan 10, 2012

    western - did not find the article you referenced, but I did read other interesting information. It looks like the 80% you referenced includes ALL school systems some of which only have 1 elem, MS,and HS. Other questions that came to mind is how many other areas have seen growth like Wake county? I have lived in WC all my life and I was reassigned way back in the 70s. This area has boomed over the last 40 years and the schools simply have not kept up. Part of it is the WC commissioners that approve new neighborhoods wihtout any thought to the schools. They just tell the school board to find a way to handle the new students.

  • westernwake1 Jan 10, 2012

    ""How about that 80% of the school systems in the country have not re-assigned a single existing residence to a different school in over 50 years. This includes high growth school systems. "

    'I can't even half imagine this is true. If it is, I would sure like to see the resource.' - JaneyJo

    Go look in the previous WRAL threads on this subject - the links with information on this were posted. As a note most of the school re-assignments in the U.S. over the past 10 years occur when schools are closed due to declining student populations mainly impacting inner cities - not due to growth. Examples include D.C., Philly, Boward, etc.

  • LBJ192 Jan 10, 2012

    "How about that 80% of the school systems in the country have not re-assigned a single existing residence to a different school in over 50 years. This includes high growth school systems. "

    I can't even half imagine this is true. If it is, I would sure like to see the resource.

  • westernwake1 Jan 10, 2012

    "The unspoken topic in all of this is the school district itself. Managing 140,000 kids is a huge responsibility and something that is not being done effectively. I would love to see the day when the Wake County Public Schools was split into multiple districts" - carydaddy

    I agree. To be effective Wake would need to be broken into a minimum of five school districts.

  • westernwake1 Jan 10, 2012

    "Placing students who live in a new subdivision in a new school doesnt work. What if an old school is closer than the new school. Neighborhood schools would not work for these people." -superman

    Neighborhood schools does not mean to the closest school to the house only. Any school that is close (within 5 miles) is acceptable to most parents. "Placing students who live in a new subdivision in a new school" works for over 80% of the U.S.

    Stability is very important in a child's education. Forced moves each year detract greatly from learning. A study posted on the WCPSS website demonstrated that bussing a student on a long bus ride to a distant school does not improve test scores for any racial group in Wake. Students with shorter bus rides to local schools had better test scores.

  • carydaddy Jan 10, 2012

    The unspoken topic in all of this is the school district itself. Managing 140,000 kids is a huge responsibility and something that is not being done effectively. I would love to see the day when the Wake County Public Schools was split into multiple districts.

    I doubt it will happen as long as my children are in school, but it certainly makes sense. Of course, there are people who are politically vested in the "bigger is better model," adults who say they have the best interest of children at heart, but simply do not.

  • jljwcj Jan 10, 2012

    Give them what they want so it will stay out of the news. Tired of seeing all the anti-white/conservative propaganda being spewed by the bias media.

  • bikely Jan 10, 2012

    The biggest issue I see, is that the only way you know you will go to your "neighborhood school" is if you are already in it. Since most schools are already at or above capacity, how much "choice" is there, if there are not actually seats available?
    If you move to new area, new construction, etc, you'll only get into the closest school that has an available space! Really feel for the real estate agents trying to explain that one...

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