Wake County Schools

New Wake student assignment plan ties 'base' schools to addresses

Posted September 17, 2012
Updated September 18, 2012

— Wake County school board members and the public will get their first look Tuesday at a revised student assignment plan that, school system leaders say, will link specific schools to every address in the district.

The proposed changes, for the 2013-14 school year, will be unveiled at the Board of Education's 5:30 p.m. meeting.

In June, the school board voted on a directive to change the current "controlled choice" plan so that students would, in part, be assigned to a school or schools within a "reasonable distance" from where they live.

Under the changes that are expected to be outlined Tuesday, each address in Wake County will be assigned a "base" elementary, middle and high school.

All new families, as well as families who move to a new address within the county, will be assigned to a base school.

Parents, however, will have the option to stay at the base school or rank among a list of other schools where they would prefer their children to attend.

Students in school this year will be allowed to stay in their current school, if parents wish. If that's not the base school, they can choose the base school, if there's room.

"It really does combine the best practices of those we just implemented last year and previous plans and best practices we've seen around the nation," Superintendent Tony Tata said Monday.

Tata and a team of school system staff worked last year to implement the current student assignment plan, which moved away from a longstanding practice of busing students for socio-economic purposes.

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Critics of the “diversity” plan complained, in part, that it didn't provide stability to families. Those of the new plan were concerned that it didn't adequately address the needs of students in low-performing schools.

And although it was designed to give parents more input in where their children go to school, many parents likened it to a lottery and said it didn't work for their families. Local real estate agents also worried it would deter home sales in the area because parents couldn’t be sure where their children would go to school.

students Wake schools set to unveil new assignment plan

"It answers a lot of questions for a lot of families in Wake County in a very positive way," board member Debra Goldman said Monday. "Of course, there's not a plan, I don't think, (that) would be completely everything that matches my wish list, but this plan comes close."

She said she supports the address-based component but has concerns about how the district will help low-achieving and under-capacity schools.

"I don't want to see balancing working out again where students end up being bused across the county," she said.

Board member Jim Martin said he hopes the new plan will take student achievement into account – something he claims the current plan only worsened.

"The choice plan still is not a stable plan by any stretch of the imagination, and in fact, when you look at demographics that we see happening on this plan, you see more racial isolation, more economic isolation, more student achievement isolation," he said.

"We need to allow choice to be possible where there is capacity, and we also need to be very careful to look at demographic distribution across the county to make sure we don't have any form of isolation," he added.

Tata said he expects the plan will also help with transportation issues that the district has been working to fix since traditional-calendar schools started last month.

Parents have complained about buses being late or not arriving at stops.

"I think anytime you have a base plan that is more predictable, transportation is more predictable," Tata said.

Public hearings on the proposed plan will start next week, and the school board is scheduled to adopt a final plan in late October.

The following public hearings have already been scheduled:

  • 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 24 at North Garner Middle School, 720 Powell Drive, Garner
  • 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 26 at Leesville Road High School, 8409 Leesville Road, Raleigh
  • 11 a.m. on Sept. 29 at Lignon Magnet Middle School, 706 E. Lenoir St., Raleigh
  • 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 4 at Panther Creek High School, 6770 McCrimmon Parkway, Cary
  • 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 8 at Rolesville Middle School, 4700 Burlington Mills Road, Rolesville

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  • westernwake1 Sep 19, 2012

    "@westernwake1 This is not a compromise plan, this is the republican board plan." - form1

    Read Tony Tata's comments today - '"The choice plan was the compromise middle-of-the-road plan – now we are making the next logical step," he said.

    The Choice Plan is a compromise plan. As stated by Republican board members and Mr. Tata multiple times - the Choice plan is a middle-of-the-road compromise plan, it is not the nieghborhood school proposal wanted by the Republican board.

  • form1 Sep 19, 2012

    This is not a compromise plan, this is the republican board plan. The neighborhood plan would have been a worst plan then this one. The republican board was in control and they could have forced this plan on us. I think even they knew or Goldman knew that school zones would not work out and there would be all kind of logistic, school overcrowding and under enrolled. That is why they settle for this. There is no with the proximity of wake county schools you can have a neighborhood plan. In urban cities you can do it because the density of the population allows it. In a county like it wake it is just not feasible.

    So instead of saying the republican board is the problem, you are blaming the NAACP? Why not blame the voters who voted them out in November? Why not blame the republican board who rushed this plan to vote on there way out? Tata told the current board that they were too far in the planning stage to turn back now, that is why they didn't change it!

  • westernwake1 Sep 18, 2012

    "Care to tell everyone here what is the local TAX to support those wonderful neighborhood schools up North?? Could you please tell everyone what is the per student spending up in New York vs NC. Please do tell!" - Da Toy Maker

    There is a cost associated with being one of the top 25 states in education rather then being down at 46th to 49th like North Carolina.

    In N.Y. (like all the top states in education) you get to vote on the school budget each year for your school district and either pass it or vote it down. Likewise you also get to vote directly on major proposals such as changing the assignment plan (wish we had that in Wake). I will note there are school districts in New York State that vastly outperform Wake while spending less dollars per pupil.

  • JMOP Sep 18, 2012

    You fired, no YOU Fired!!! hahahahahaha You all deserve each other.

  • mckinniejoy2 Sep 18, 2012

    My kids are at one of the magnet schools. Every parent has a plan of what is best for their children. My plan is to have them in a Magnet school and not a school near my neighborhood.

  • Da Toy Maker Sep 18, 2012

    "Having grown up in NY, where we went to the nearest school to our home, ...

    Care to tell everyone here what is the local TAX to support those wonderful neighborhood schools up North?? Could you please tell everyone what is the per student spending up in New York vs NC. Please do tell!

  • Naysayer Sep 18, 2012

    Having grown up in NY, where we went to the nearest school to our home, this silly never ending nonsense of trying to make up for past racial injustices via busing in this county is insane. Anybody who claims this is anything but liberals trying to feel good by "helping" poor minorities is intellectually dishonest. Benefit of busing is negligible at best, if parents don't give a hoot, the kid is not going to 1) do their homework 2) study 3) stay in school.

  • storchheim Sep 18, 2012

    "Think about it, how could they make permanent assignments and build a new school if there is a baby boom?" smcallah

    I don't know. But I'm not a city planner with a college degree, hired to do the job.

  • kidsrn Sep 18, 2012

    As discussed earlier on this thread, the other high-growth school systems in the U.S. do not have any issues with using a neighborhood school assignment plan that permanently assigns a base school to an address. New sub-divisions are assigned to new schools and existing sub-divisions are assigned to existing schools. Very easy and simple - and successfully done by high growth school systems in the US since 1950.

    It is pretty easy to figure out a formula for the number/size/type/bedrooms of home structures associated to each school & map long term assignments from there. ---westernwake1

    Sounds like a superb plan to me. I'd vote for you!

  • bimarriedraleigh Sep 18, 2012

    This is the most messed up School board in the country,,,
    No wonder the top transportation guy quit,,Bus students all over the county,,,Traditional, year round, modifies, magnet, choice, home base,,,you wonder why they cant meet the transportation budget, Paying mechanics over time to drive, more miles on buses, more fuel, lit goes on,,This is one big School district not divided like big cities, the money is split equal at each school, each school should get same as they need it, no need to go to a school in rich neighborhood.
    Heck they bus students across the county daily and we don't really know why

    More carpool going on than ever, wonder why that is.
    As a parent why would anyone say they wanted their child to go to a school that is not down the street.

    Come on Wake county,,get it right,,