Wake County Schools

Blog: Board talks student assignment and achievement

Posted June 21, 2011

Wake County Public School System

School day could get longer:

The school board voted unanimously Tuesday night in favor of changing the bell schedule to add ten minutes to the end of the school day starting with the 2011-2012 school year. This will authorize Tata to request a waiver from DPI to do so if necessary, it does not mean this is a done deal. The final state budget includes adding five days to the school calendar. In Wake County that would mean an extra $500 thousand in transportation costs and could cause scheduling issues with year-round school tracks overlapping. Staff told the board that superintendent Tony Tata will ask the State Department of Public Instruction for a waiver to increase the school day by ten minutes ( at first they wanted five at the start and five at the end) instead of adding the extra days. Deborah Prickett made a motion asking that all ten minutes be added to the end of the school day, citing concerns about the already early start time for high school students. John Tedesco adding the extra time would not have the same learning benefit to students as adding the extra days.

Wake County will rejoin the NC School Board Association:

The board voted unanimously to rejoin the the NC School Board Association Tuesday night. In 2010 the board voted to separate from the association in part to save money on annual dues.

Budget Adopted:

The board approved superintendent Tony Tata's proposed budget in May and asked the county for $313.5 million. The county added an additional $908 thousand. On Tuesday night Chief Business Officer David Neter asked the board to officially adopt the final budget resolution. Neter said he will come back in July to ask the board to make some additional changes based on the final state budget. Last week Neter said they will have to lay off hundreds of additional Wake County school employees, mostly custodians, to make up the state budget gap. The board adopted the budget with a 7-1 vote. Dr. Anne McLaurin voted against it, expressing concerns about the reduction in per pupil spending.


New school board officers elected:

On vote number 56 the board elected John Tedesco as the school board's new vice-chairman in a 5-4 vote. Debra Goldman changed her vote to make it a tie, 4 in favor of Tedesco, 4 in favor of Keith Sutton. Chairman Ron Margiotta broke the tie.

As the school board moved from the afternoon work session into their full annual meeting their first order of business was to elect new officers. In a 5-4 vote the board re-elected Ron Margiotta as board chairman. It took significantly longer to elect a new vice-chair. After 32 votes they still did not have the majority necessary to pick someone. The board took a break after vote number 50. They came back and voted twice more, still no majority, still no vice-chair.

NAACP open letter on student assignment meeting:

On the same day superintendent Tony Tata updated the school board on the student assignment plan progress, state NAACP president Rev. William Barber sent a follow up letter about meeting with Tata.

Last week Barber wrote the superintendent, raising concerns about the new proposed assignment plans, and requesting he meet with the NAACP before finalizing a plan. Tata responded last Thursday agreeing to meet with the group and asking that the conversation also include how to improve community outreach. Barber responded with the following letter on Tuesday:

Dear Superintendent Tata:

 

We have received your letter dated June 16, 2011. We look forward to meeting with you and your team in private and continuing our dialogue around the questions we raised and the additional agenda items you provided. We have studied both of the assignment plans and our questions are a result of that review.

 

As you know, for more than 102 years, the NAACP has engaged in local, state and national efforts to enact policies to improve public education and ensure equality. We will have our scheduler call and communicate with your scheduler to facilitate a date as soon as possible.

 

Yours in the Spirit of Truth and Justice,

Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II

President

Building new schools:

School staff laid out some of the long-term new school needs to accommodate growth. They propose building ten new schools between 2014 and 2016. The proposal is based on existing funds from the 2006 capital improvement program and having a bond referendum in the fall of 2012 or spring of 2013.

Student assignment plan presentation:

Superintendent Tony Tata says they will take the Blue choice model forward in developing a new student assignment plan, but will also incorporate elements of the Green plan.

Tata says if parents do not pick schools for their children under the choice plan Wake County would likely put children in achievement schools.

Student Assignment Task Force team leader James Overman began by presenting some updated information and numbers related to developing an assignment plan, and specifically about the test drive of the proposed Blue choice plan.

As of Tuesday morning more than 18 thousand people have participated, and a total of 11, 595 unique addresses (some families log on several times to enter choices for each child) So far there are still 131 nodes from which they have no feedback at all. Southeast Raleigh and Eastern Wake County continue to be the most underrepresented, despite two days of additional community outreach. On Sunday task force members with computers went to a Raleigh church to ask people to participate after services. They did the same at seven schools and a Boys and Girls Club on Monday.

Some preliminary data includes:

73% of parents would not change their rankings even if it meant only having express transportation (Community bus stops instead of neighborhood)

91% say its somewhat or very important to have multiple school choices.

89% say its somewhat or very important to have a guaranteed K-12 feeder pattern.

88% says its somewhat or very important to have schools closest to home.

Student assignment plan changes: 

Superintendent Tony Tata will update the board shortly the student assignment process.

According to presentation outline Tata will give the board an update on the test drive, outreach, and next steps.
He will talk about merging the "best" of the Green and Blue plans.

Tata's work plan schedule includes presenting a final student assignment plan to the board in September or October.

Student discipline policy changes:

Next up for the board Tuesday was talk of changing some discipline changes.

The big issue up for discussion was who would oversee student appearing hearings to determine if recommended suspensions are necessary for a student's actions. Under the change a student has the right to an appeal hearing within ten days of being suspended. At the last meeting the board raised concern about having one hearing officer making all the decisions. Instead board attorney Ann Majestic revised the proposed policy to include a hearing board made up of retired educators.

The goal is to scale back Wake County schools zero tolerance policy, requiring long-term suspensions for some offenses. The board hopes changes will help reduce the number of suspensions and find other ways to punish students without taking them out of the classroom unless it is necessary.  

Board member Keith Sutton brought up the issue of school resource officers and their role and asked whether SROs should also be a part of the hearings.

Concerns about the student achievement gap:

Tuesday's Wake County School Board meeting opened with a presentation from Dr. Lindsay Page on the results of a student achievement audit. Page said Wake County students score higher than the state average and continue to grow, but the gap between Wake County and the state average is shrinking.

The audit also found that on average students who do not qualify for free and reduced lunch out perform students who do. While overall scores improved for both groups from the 2006-2007 school year to the 2008-2009 school year, the overall achievement gap stayed the same. So while overall scores are improving moderately, the achievement gap is not improving.

The audit also looked the the gap by race. Page said the overall scores of all racial groups appear to be improving each year, but again, the achievement gap among black, white, Hispanic and Asian groups is not changing.

23 Comments

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  • anotherm Jun 22, 2011

    @southernincary The real question is, if the school 30 minutes away was better than the closer 3 schools, what would you do? The problem is not the distance to school in most cases, it is the fact that there are multiple better schools between home and the assigned school. If the school 30 minutes away was the best school, I would gladly send my kid there over closer schools. I think wake is setting themselves up by designating achievement schools, I would expect those schools to be way over capacity and a lot of people won't get into the achievement schools due to limited allocation of seats for non-proximity students.

  • 4kidsforme Jun 21, 2011

    Do they seriously think we are dumb enough to believe we will actually get a choice in the school they will end up assigning us to?

  • southernincary Jun 21, 2011

    As it stands now, my daughter will go to middle school 30 minutes away (driving past 3 schools to get there). I am not thrilled with her going all the way down there to school and that school really isn't a great school (a lot of fights, low scores). We care a lot about her education and chose to live in this area because of the schools. We expect her to perform to the best of her abilities regardless of the scores of her classmates. If Blue Plan is the way to go, we can choose for her to go to the school closer to home which is also a school that we would be more comfortable with (safer!). I don't know what parent wouldn't want that for their child.

  • injameswetrust2003 Jun 21, 2011

    Why did Tedesco go over and hug Goldman? That was weird.

  • injameswetrust2003 Jun 21, 2011

    Is this nonsense ever going to end? Debra, stop voting for yourself.

  • anotherm Jun 21, 2011

    voting no on the referendum for more money for building new schools until they can figure out capacity planning better and have no underutilized schools and move to more year round schools for better utilization of existing schools. They need to be fiscally responsible and explore all options and implement before asking for more money.

  • pleasing2thei Jun 21, 2011

    Assign the students whose parents have not bothered to participate to an achievement school? Great. I have participated in meeting after meeting and completed all of the surveys, etc. but then a household which has not/will not particpate could just not do a thing and jump into an achievement school.

  • Bring on the 4 Dollar Gas Jun 21, 2011

    " what is the point of doing the test drive "

    There never was a point. It just makes people feel good to be able to be involved right. Since few have bothered it was a total waste of time. Since the plan will change when and if it is ever released, much of what was selected by the few who did respond could and will change therefore once again proving the test was a waste.

  • Bring on the 4 Dollar Gas Jun 21, 2011

    "you have to key in your child's student ID number"

    you can key in any number(s) and it will work.

  • raleigh-cary Jun 21, 2011

    One problem could be that when you log in, you have to key in your child's student ID number; they tell you it is on the report card but my child is in year-round and hasn't received his latest report card and I didn't feel like going to my file cabinet and rummaging for his past report cards. I THINK this number might also be the child's lunch number in some cases, but I'm not sure. Point is that I think more people would participate if they knew this number.

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