Wake County Schools

Group: Schedule shift hides cost of Wake assignment plan

Posted February 17, 2012

Wake County Public School System

— A community group on Friday charged that the costs of the new student assignment plan for Wake County schools is being obscured by a proposed shift in school schedules for next fall.

The Great Schools in Wake Coalition says Superintendent Tony Tata and the Wake County Board of Education should publicly disclose the financial analysis used in drafting the choice assignment plan, which was created after the board decided to stop using busing to balance socio-economic diversity across schools and place more emphasis on allowing students to attend schools closer to their homes.

Tata denied that the school district is hiding anything.

"We are being as open and as transparent as we can," he said.

Under the new assignment plan, parents can choose from at least five elementary, two middle and two high schools, based on their address. The schools are a combination of traditional-calendar, year-round calendar, magnet and other specialty options.

Tata has said that adjusting school schedules – some would start up to an hour earlier or later than they do now – could save the school district $10 million by eliminating the need for 112 buses. The district would cut back on the number of tiered bus routes, lengthen bus runs and increase the number of students on each run.

He acknowledged Friday that savings from the schedule shift might be only $8.5 million because the district might need another 50 buses to make the choice assignment plan work.

Some parents have balked at the changes, noting they would affect their ability to drop children off in the morning before work, volunteer at school and children's after-school schedules.

More than 9,400 people have submitted comments online about the schedule change, which the school board is expected to discuss next Tuesday.

Tony Tata Tata: Schedule change means smaller cuts to classroom spending

Yevonne Brannon, chairwoman of Great Schools in Wake, alleges that Tata is pushing the new bell schedule to hide the full costs of the assignment plan.

"We see all these kinds of rushed pushes into the public that are not well thought out, and there's no information," Brannon said. "I think taxpayers are just not buying this stuff anymore. They want to understand why do you need these funds, what are you spending them on, how are you really saving money and is it a smart idea?"

Tata said he presented the schedule change as early as possible to get parental feedback. He said the district's budget needs to be cut, and he would prefer to save on transportation costs than on instructional costs.

"It is a tough economic time right now. It's a zero-sum game," he said. "I either modify the transportation system, or I go into the classroom."

If the school board approves the schedule changes, he said, parents would be allowed to switch their school choices so the hours of their selected schools meet their needs.

Board members said they are just beginning to study the schedule changes and savings, and some said they can't support shifts of more than an hour.

"There is so much more than the dollar savings," board member Debra Goldman said. "This is a whole different program. I love to see the dollar savings, but you have to balance those with the costs, and in this case, it could be costs to parents, to kids, to all of our stakeholders."


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  • CAVELADY2 Feb 21, 2012

    i understand that we need cut cost is important and thats it's better not to take the money out of the classroom but as working parents who have to be at work at 8 and you can't change that, what do i do? let my 2nd and 4th grader stand outside alone and wait for the bus?

  • miseem Feb 17, 2012

    It's all about the money now. That's been the right wing ideology for years. So what is it's hard for you to get to your job when your child starts school at 9:00. If it saves the taxpayers money it's not our concern. Don't like it? Get another job. They are your kids, handle it.
    That's pretty much what some of these posters that are complaining have said about other issues. Everyone's for cutting spending until it hits their pocket, then it's different. I know some dictionaries publish lists of new words that become popular every year. They need to do the same list for words that no longer reflect American culture. My nomination for this year is "empathy"

  • josephlawrence43 Feb 17, 2012

    All this racket and hard feelings..The solution is simple..eliminate all busing--and the parents get to select the specific school they want their kids to attend. But with the understanding that they have to provide transportation to and from the school of their choice...Its fair and reasonable..

  • sunshine1040 Feb 17, 2012

    I did think and I am tired of hearing reports about obese children in the news your child might be to young to walk by itself to shcool but is she the only child in your neighborhood. We met with neighbors children and all walked to the bus stop together and my children did the same thing. It was 6 miles to the school for me and 3 for my children . One more stop for my chidrens bus it was two miles from the school

  • Nancy Feb 17, 2012

    "Nice comments about moving students around, but it has nothing to with this story. We are talking about costs." - lbj

    Except no one ever complained about the ridiculous bus routes during the years of shuffle for diversity. I was a driver for WCPSS mid to late 90's, you miss the costs then.

    As to cost vs impact on students - let's put some attention to the students for a change, not just a numbers game like it has been for far too long.

    Now, about that study concerning the impact on students who were shuffled around - is there one? Did it do the students any good?

  • beaupeep Feb 17, 2012

    kkirstenc; You're joking, right? MOST of the elementary schools are 9:15 to 3:45 right now! Somehow the rest of the County seems to manage it, why not everyone?

    This plan goes a long way to getting all the elementary schools starting at the same time. Same can be said for middle and HS.

  • LBJ192 Feb 17, 2012

    Nancy - nice cut on the "woman" but we all want to know how much this is going to cost. Nice comments about moving students around, but it has nothing to with this story. We are talking about costs.

  • muggs Feb 17, 2012

    Maybe this constant fueding has an impact on how industry sees that North Carolina's capital has a hard time getting their education administration all on the same page,most companies want their future employees to be able to live and educate their families in a stable setting Wake county has a very hard time in exspressing that feeling.

  • Remy Feb 17, 2012

    "Less then 2 miles away why are they riding a bus at all. What were shoes and sidewalks for?"

    If this comment is directed towards me, remember that to walk there you got to get back for total of 4 miles morning, same in the evening and elementary children are not old enough to walk without an adult. When the adults in the home work it is a little difficult to do this. Besides, a bus goes right by my house. A little thinking before posting would be appeciated.

  • Nancy Feb 17, 2012

    This group (woman) would complain if it cost $10.00 more that the old diversity plan, that's all she's ever wanted.

    And stability in schools should have been a priority for students all along, not the annual shuffle. I'd like to see a study on how that impacts all those students who were uprooted and moved around. Don't think anyone did that did they?