Wake County Schools

Wake student-assignment panel has a map, up to a point

Posted August 31, 2010

— Wake County settled Tuesday on a "shell" map of student-assignment zones based on high schools and larger "regions," though the decision by the school board's Student Assignment Committee came with strong cautions that lines on the map will be "fluid" and that more data on student performance and financial impacts have to come first.

The committee's three voting school board members agreed on the high-school map, one of several that had been suggested as a starting point for a community-based assignment system that will not consider the decade-old policy of seeking socioeconomic diversity in all schools.

The committee also learned that in a few years, computer projections show that eastern Wake County will experience the greatest percentage of growth, and the demand for school seats there will outstrip capacity.

The committee also has nine non-voting community members, one from each of the board members' districts, and several of them made it clear to committee Chairman John Tedesco that they want to see data student achievement for students currently assigned to each of the district's magnet schools, and they want to know how that breaks down according to attendance in a magnet program at the school, in a regular program at the magnet school or attendance at a school somewhere else in the county.

Wake County Public School System Wake student-assignment panel meets

District staff had presented some of that data Tuesday, and Tedesco made a point of noting that students bused from southeast Raleigh, an area with a high proportion of poor families, did not appear to do any better if they were bused out of their community for diversity purposes.

The board majority that pushed through the controversial dropping of diversity in assigning students has argued that it dislocates neighborhoods without helping students.

A sticking point in the discussion so far appears to be how magnet schools, which are concentrated in southeast and downtown Raleigh, can continue to handle students who come from other parts of the county to get special programs and accommodate about 5,000 students who would be assigned back to the community under the diversity-blind plan.

"We would have to solidify roles of the magnet schools before we can draw zones," member Anne Sherron said, echoing member Anne Cooper who asked how the district can draw an assignment map if the committee does not know enough about magnet schools.

The school board has said that magnet schools will continue to be the main tool for achieving voluntary school desegregation by offering specialized programs to draw students into high-poverty, minority-concentration parts of the county.

The map the committee will use going forward as a model for discussions creates 16 zones around 21 current or planned high schools. Zones would be grouped into five regions.

Tedesco said he expected that families would be able to choose schools in their zone at the elementary level. At the middle school and high school levels, however, choice could expand to the zone level in order to accommodate all options, such as traditional or year-round calendars.

In addition, the committee said magnet schools would largely remain district-wide options.

"Families in every zone should have some fair choices," Tedesco said.

Board member Keith Sutton, a supporter of the model currently in use, said he thinks the committee's plan is a good starting point.

"It's a map and a plan, zones we've been working with already...so that's as good place to start," Sutton said.

Barbara Walsh, one of the community members, asked Tedesco about beginning to consider the financial implications of a new plan.

"I think we're so far from that," Tedesco said, but he asked Interim Superintendent Donna Hargens to have financial chief David Neter come to the committee's Sept. 24 meeting.

On another front, Tedesco invited all the committee members to a Sept. 30 meeting of the Economically Disadvantaged Student Task Force, another community-membership board committee that he co-chairs.

Comments at Tuesday's meeting and at last week's most-recent task force meeting showed some people in both groups see the two projects influencing each other.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • mjfelman Sep 2, 2010

    when i look at the "sample" i am completelt disheartened to see that the "Assignments by neighborhood" actually divide my neighborghood. we are slated to go to two different school disatricts. I am hoping that this is an oversight and that the correction will be made to keep our neighborhood together. hence the purpose of neighbirhood schools.....

  • Peace Love and Cold Meds Sep 1, 2010

    The lack of comments can be directly tied to the lack of supporters for Barber and his goofs.

  • yabo2k3 Sep 1, 2010

    I still think this is a big group of monkeys trying to see who is the leader of the pack. Magnet Schools are discriminatory. I am sorry, but if my child can get in if I choose a specific race and not get in by choosing another, this is unconstitutional. I have told all friends and neighbors to simply select the one race that will get you in. They cannot deny entry once accepted. Plus, it is the BoE's responsibility to prove you are not of that race. Many scientists have proven that all humanity started from one place, so they would need an incredible scientific study to prove them wrong.

  • bill0 Sep 1, 2010

    "But think of the enormous cost savings if crazy busing was stopped"

    The plan proposed by this board will actually increase busing costs. Right now, most kids go to their closest school and a small minority are bused halfway across the county. The new plan is to give everyone the option attending a school somewhere in their zone - not the closest school.

    "not to mention neighborhood peer pressure"

    You do realize that the "peer pressure" in most poor/minority neighborhoods isn't positive, don't you? That was the whole point of busing the kids out to begin with - to get them out of that environment and give them a chance to learn.

    The old busing system had a lot of problems and was run by inept people. However, lots of cities have "neighborhood" schools, and the inner-city portions of them tend to be utter failures. We need a plan to address that reality and the current board seems to be in complete denial about it.

  • ThinkChick Sep 1, 2010

    kitcatfisher: I sympathize with your son's plight. But think of the enormous cost savings if crazy busing was stopped, about 2/3 of the bloated administration was cut out: that would permit resources into every school for students. There would be continuity - not to mention neighborhood peer pressure for troublemakers - that would help keep things at an even keel that would/could contribute to optimizing the learning environment for everyone.

  • ncguy Sep 1, 2010

    On another front, Tedesco invited all the committee members to a Sept. 30 meeting of the Economically Disadvantaged Student Task Force

    as of right now and this economy aren't all middle class in this category?

  • cjw6105 Aug 31, 2010

    Magnets are fine if you CHOOSE them. Not so great if you're forcibly bused there like our neighborhood was for 25 years. And double-digit miles each way.

  • SatelliteBgan Aug 31, 2010

    After reading k I'm starting to believe that we should do away with magnet schools so that all Wake schools are the same. Each student should be able to have the same education as another no mater what school they attend. If your child has special needs, then as a parent take care of it. Otherwise you are saying that a child with normal needs can't go to a magnet school to be all they can be due to a child of special needs is more important and should go to the magnet school. Also, if all were the same, your neighborhood school would be just like my neighborhood school and therefore no busing.

  • Peace Love and Cold Meds Aug 31, 2010

    oh well, kitcat you'll have to ask Golo for my response. In short, end magnets and start the whole thing over. Enough with the inequality!

  • kitcatfisher Aug 31, 2010

    Hey Youcanthandlethetruth......You cant handle the reality! My son goes to a magnet school. I don't think of myself as a nimrod. I want my child to have the best education that can be achieved. My son has ADHD and Dyslexia. without the magnet schools he would be left far behind all other students his age. I found that out in kindergarten. He was in a mainstream school that could not provide the needed resources that has made him a better student and person. Now in middle school he has the potential to become anything he dreams of....doctor, lawyer or even the president of the US. You think that magnet schools are a waste. You obviously don't have any children in one. They offer so much more than the traditional schools. Better learning make better students. My son loves to go to school even now he is a teenager. His reading and math skills are at the level that you wouldn't think he had any learning challenges. The only nimrod here is the one without the full facts.....YOU!