Wake County Schools

Raleigh mayor concerned over new Wake assignment plan

Posted April 11, 2012

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— Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane expressed concern Wednesday about how confusion over the Wake County Public School System's new student assignment plan could be hurting the city's ability to recruit businesses.

McFarlane was one of six Wake County mayors who met with Wake County Board of Education members and school Superintendent Tony Tata at a meeting of the Wake County Mayors Association. The group met to discuss how the local municipalities can better work with the school system to set and meet educational goals.

"I'm just starting to hear from people who either have businesses here and are trying to recruit new employees, or they may be moving a business here, and people are very surprised, when they're looking for a home, that no one can tell them where their child is going to school," McFarlane said.

The new assignment plan, which goes into effect in the fall, replaces a decade-old practice of busing students for socio-economic diversity. It's intended to allow parents to rank, among several schools, their preference of where their children might attend school, but final placement by the district is based on a number of factors.

"I don't want to see anything happen that would drive business away or people away," McFarlane said. "I have three kids who went to Wake County schools and have always been incredibly proud of them. We always said you can live anywhere in Wake County and go to a great school. That was what kept us at the top of the heap across the country, and we need to keep that in mind as we move forward."

Tony Tata Raleigh mayor concerned over new Wake assignment plan

Nearly 75 percent of parents who participated in a first choice-selection phase received their first choice, but some parents said the new plan has their children going to different elementary schools or that they still don't know where their children will go to school.

School board members acknowledged Wednesday that the plan is still evolving, and Tata said that there are still issues that need to be addressed but that the plan needs to be given a chance.

"I take all concerns of elected officials and parents very seriously," Tata said. "I would say that the newcomer issue is at the very top of the list of those that we really feel like we need to address so that we're fair."

Another challenge, he said, is how to figure out what to do when all of them want the same school, but it's too crowded.

Proponents of the new assignment plan have said that it will give parents a better idea of where their child could go to school and that it will also prevent students from being reassigned to schools.

"I had a business owner reach out to me last week, and he said, 'You guys are still doing that busing program, aren't you? We're really concerned about that.'" Tata said. "I actually wrote him back and said, 'No, we have a choice-based assignment plan.' So, let's not pretend we didn't have issues with the old assignment plan."

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  • Krimson Apr 13, 2012

    "The problem is that she is a supporter of the previous system, which had the same basic problem (school choice) that she is complaining about now. She supported school choice uncertainty if it was due to balancing out income disparity, but doesn't support the current system."

    Actually, you assume that incoming children will be able to enter into the system and make choices like the current kids. That's wrong. Newcomers will be forced to squeeze into any available seat, most likely in a outlying school miles from their homes.

    "When an issue becomes a "city" problem only when the roots don't suit your political beliefs it gives the appearance of trying to manipulate public opinion through the platform of the mayor's office by using fabricated and unbalanced anecdotes."

    I guess you find all politics distasteful??? b/c what you describing is EXACTLY why we elect politicians - to push the specific and certain platforms that matter to the majority of their constituents...

  • Krimson Apr 13, 2012

    "If this works so well then, why can't WCPSS do the appropriate and correct research and give us some results (negative or positive). Nobody has ever wanted to provide the public with research and result of ANY kind."

    They did. Over the last how many years they put into place a similar "study", did the metrics, adjusted/bused/re-assigned as overcrowding, EOG results, etc. required. It was called the "Diversity Plan".

    The "conclusion" os said "study" was that Wake has one of the top system in the nation for its size. Second best to Fairfax VA I thought I read somewhere...

  • commonsense4 Apr 12, 2012

    "If this works so well then, why can't WCPSS do the appropriate and correct research and give us some results (negative or positive). Nobody has ever wanted to provide the public with research and result of ANY kind."

    Maryland is smarter than North Carolina!

  • Honesty first Apr 12, 2012

    In the prior system, at least I knew which school my kids would attend based on where I live. Now you do not know at all where you will be allowed to attend.

  • sbr1963 Apr 12, 2012

    "That's intersting MadMax, b/c Montgomery County MD (144000 students like Wake) just researched and discovered that lower income students do indeed do better in higher income schools"--tw1000

    If this works so well then, why can't WCPSS do the appropriate and correct research and give us some results (negative or positive). Nobody has ever wanted to provide the public with research and result of ANY kind.

  • kmanc4s Apr 12, 2012

    Comments like the Mayors are just a lot of hot air by people who can't accept the fact that the majority of people in this county no longer support busing for "socio-economic" diversity, which was nothing more than a buzz word for busing on the basis of race.

  • southraleigh Apr 12, 2012

    "If a business wants to move to Raleigh but their relocated employees have a concern of what school their children will be assigned to, the city (Mayor) should try to have that concern addressed. Now do you get it?"
    -Honesty first

    The problem is that she is a supporter of the previous system, which had the same basic problem (school choice) that she is complaining about now. She supported school choice uncertainty if it was due to balancing out income disparity, but doesn't support the current system.

    When an issue becomes a "city" problem only when the roots don't suit your political beliefs it gives the appearance of trying to manipulate public opinion through the platform of the mayor's office by using fabricated and unbalanced anecdotes.

    It's distasteful. And that's coming from a Democrat.

  • br549znc Apr 12, 2012

    High taxes are to blame for businesses not wanting to come here, as well.

  • Honesty first Apr 12, 2012

    If a business wants to move to Raleigh but their relocated employees have a concern of what school their children will be assigned to, the city (Mayor) should try to have that concern addressed. Now do you get it?

  • bradsher98 Apr 12, 2012

    The Raleigh mayor should keep her nose out of the school situation. There are enough headaches in the school board situation. She should look after the city since there are enough problems there.

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