Raleigh, N.C. — Monday marks the start of a new school year for Wake County students enrolled in year-round schools. The Wake County Public School System has dozens of elementary and middle schools that accommodate about 40,000 students on a multi-track, year-round schedule.
Those headed back to class, and the incoming kindergartners, will be the first to experience the school system's new student assignment plan based on parental choice.
The plan, called "controlled choice," is a compromise reached after the Wake County Board of Education voted in 2010 to replace the district's long-standing method of assigning students based on socio-economic diversity. Families pick a schoolfrom a pool of choices based on proximity and available capacity.
Critics of the plan worry that schools will become segregated, by race and by income, and student performance will suffer. Other parents complained that even with choice, they could not get their children into the schools closest to their homes. The school board agreed last month to revisit the issue of student assignment again before the 2013-14 school year.
Nine schools are filled to capacity with incoming kindergartners, while others have dozens of open slots.
Raleigh's Barwell Road Elementary School, one of the system's lowest-performing schools in 2010-11, has almost 100 seats available, and Superintendent Tony Tata plans to start his day there Monday.
Barwell, Brentwood Magnet, Creech Road and Wilburn are Wake County's designated "Renaissance Schools," where federal funding and a new staff commitment are being applied to increase student achievement.