Raleigh, N.C. — The incoming superintendent of the Wake County Public School System will make his first public appearance in the Triangle Jan. 6, when he addresses the conservative Wake County Taxpayers Association.
Anthony Tata, a retired U.S. Army officer who was chief operating officer of the District of Columbia Public Schools, was named to the post on Christmas Eve.
He takes the job at a time of political tension on the Board of Education and budget pressure from the county and state.
The school board moved in February to change a long-standing policy of assigning students to schools across the county to maintain socio-economic balance. Opponents of that policy and the Republican majority on the board saw regular shuffling of students and the resulting, sometimes long, bus rides as unacceptable.
The board has signaled a desire to assign students to schools by simple geographic proximity, but they have thus far failed agree how to go about it.
The Democratic minority on the board and a vocal segment of the public has been against the change entirely, arguing it will create de-facto segregated schools.
With the state facing approximately $3.5 billion in budget cuts, Gov. Bev Perdue has asked all state agencies to draw up a list of spending cuts of between 5 and 15 percent.
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction said a cut of only 5 percent would equal layoffs for more than 400 teachers and 73 teaching assistants in the Wake County system.