Raleigh, N.C. — Wake County schools Superintendent Tony Tata said Monday that he is confident the school system is headed in the right direction, especially with its new choice-model student assignment plan.
In an interview with WRAL News, Tata reflected on his first year on the job and stressed that the new assignment plan will remain one of his top priorities.
About 12,000 parents have already logged in online to choose and rank which schools they want their children to attend for the 2012-13 school year, he said.
Their choices are based on their address and include at least five elementary, two middle and two high schools. Those schools are a combination of traditional calendar, year-round calendar, magnet and other specialty options.
The school system will begin notifying parents in mid-March of their assignments.
Tata said he believes most parents are happy with the new plan.
Tata acknowledged there are some still concerned about feeder patterns and capacity, but he said his assignment team is closely monitoring and evaluating those issues.
"We are watching those areas very closely, and I think it's a little too soon to tell right now," he said.
In his first year, Tata visited nearly all 165 schools and listened to teachers. Those experiences are a key part of the job, he said.
"I have no expectation that everybody is perfect and that we are going to have perfection right out of the gate," Tata said. "I just want everybody to do the very best that they can, apply best practices."
The biggest challenges ahead include protecting teachers and classrooms in next year’s budget, when about $28 million in federal funds ends, Tata said.
"My goal is not to cut a single employee from this system this year, and the budget that we will present I think will get us there," he said.
In November, the balance of power on the school board shifted away from the Republican-backed majority that hired Tata, but he isn't worried that it will impact his mission.
"I don't think it impacts it at all," he said. "We are all focused on student achievement and what's the best thing for the district."
Last March, the Wake County Public School System faced the possibility of losing its accreditation in the wake of an NAACP complaint against it. Tata says a recent positive progress report by accreditation group AdvancED shows things are on track.
"I do believe that we are moving in the right direction," he said. "I think that AdvancED report really bears that out. So, if you had stock in the first one, you've got to have stock in this one."